Devin Broadbent, aspiring aviator, is interning for a major commercial airline, United Airlines. He works closely with pilots in the flight operations center, which gives him the unique chance to get to know the couple thousand pilots that come through the San Francisco hub.
A handful of interns are chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants and completing an internship with United increases their chances of eventually working for the airline as a pilot.
“The opportunity is like gold for an aspiring pilot. When he gets ready to interview to be hired later on, he’s almost guaranteed an interview and probably get a job because of the internship,” said Captain Jim Green, an instructor in the aviation department. Green was a pilot for Continental Airlines for 25 years before retiring. When Continental and United merged, he put his relationship to use to help students compete for internships. Often, internships for major airlines are difficult to find and navigate, which is partially why one is currently not required for a degree in aviation science at UVU.
As an intern, Broadbent assembles materials and information for flight plans, offers iPad support, as well as a myriad of other responsibilities. United provides iPads that contain charts, and Broadbent fixes what isn’t working. If something is missing on a plane, Broadbent runs to deliver it to the plane.
He has already gotten to know quite a few of the pilots. They give him valuable advice he might not have had access to without the internship.
It’s hard work; more than 40 hours a week, ten hours a day of running around and he loves it.
“The hardest part is coming back from being where I’ve always wanted to be,” said Broadbent. Piloting for a commercial airline has been his plan since he flew with his family on vacations as a kid. His family would wait until the plane emptied, then ask to see the cockpit. Broadbent remembers sitting in the seat and the flight attendants giving him plastic wings. It’s one of his greatest memories and he is excited to give the same opportunity to any other kid who wants it.
“Flying is one of those things that you know early on, if it catches you,” said Broadbent.
He put off plans for a year so he could apply for the internship and was relieved the day he submitted his application.
United called him the same evening he applied. They flew him to Houston for the interview. Broadbent worked hard to be qualified to apply. Applicants need to have a high GPA and their instrument rating and commercial licenses.
“People say you can teach anybody how to fly and that’s probably true, but if you’re balancing flight training, a load of classes, homework and studying for your next flight, it becomes really challenging,” said Ryan Tanner, Director of Academic Support in the aviation department. He had employed Broadbent in the call center for the department’s online program.
“He’s sharp- it’s not surprising he got this internship,” said Tanner.
United called the day after Broadbent returned home and offered the internship.
“I was beyond excited. I really couldn’t believe it because I had written myself off,” says Broadbent. It didn’t hit him until he started packing. It meant leaving his wife in Utah to live with people he’d never met in San Francisco. He has flight benefits, meaning that one of them has the chance to fly to see the other on weekends.
He enters his name on a standby list for any flight he wants and hopes for open seats. It’s hard to fly into Salt Lake because of the limited number of flights available and has been harder because of ski season.
When he can’t get home on weekends, he goes wherever he can. One day, he flew to Maui in the morning, visited the beach for five hours and flew home.
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf