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40 Years in 40 Days: Class of 2008

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After an all-too-quick four years of college at Texas A&M (whoop!), I was catapulted into the real world in May 2008.
  
Are you cringing?  That’s right. During one of the most challenging economic times, a year that you might have tried to erase from memory, I was on the job hunt.
  
While the majority of recent college grads were getting laid off, becoming professional interviewers with no leads, or grabbing onto a temporary job that would pay the bills for awhile, I was fortunate enough to land my first job at one of the most admired Companies in the world, one that I had studied in marketing classes in college. I spent the first year and a half of my journey in Customer Relations as a Telephone Representative. A few days into training, and I was fully immersed in airport codes and Southwest policies and procedures. We even spent a “Day in the Field,” where we assisted at the ticket counter, toured Central Baggage Service, and loaded bags with the Skycaps (most definitely not my forte) to fully understand how the operation worked. This helped us sufficiently answer Customers’ questions related to reservations, refunds, Rapid Rewards, and more. You name it…Customer Relations can answer it. I still keep in close touch with my training class of July 2008—in fact, I even gained a designated “work mom”  from that group.

Training Class

Culture

I didn’t need any training to understand the Culture and quickly recognized Southwest’s knack for celebrating EVERYTHING, including something as trivial as Texas/OU weekend. (the Aggie in me speaking again).  Because of my immense strength & advantageous height (whopping 5’2) I was selected (read: randomly chosen) to participate in the Red River Rivalry Plane Pull during my first year at Southwest, and ironically, I pulled for OU. I figured crimson is as close to maroon as you can get, and an Aggie can NEVER root for Texas, right?

The important part: we won.

Plane Pull

Change of Planes

About a year ago, I transitioned to the Corporate Sales Team. We are tasked with growing the relationships and revenue with Fortune 1000 Companies to position Southwest as a preferred carrier in their travel program. This often involves educating them on the inherent value Southwest Airlines will provide to their Company. In my past year with Corporate Sales, I’ve flown on the inaugural Ferry Flights to CHS and EWR and helped plan Southwest Airlines’ involvement in  the Global Business Travel Association Convention, the world’s premier business travel event for corporate travel buyers and suppliers. Our Team attends the convention each year and hosts meetings with Corporate Customers in our Southwest branded booth. In true Southwest fashion, each year has a different theme, and the Corporate Sales Team attends in full costume. A word of wisdom for any new Southwest Employees out there: go ahead and make the investment to fill your costume closet. I can promise you it will come in handy.

Change of Planes
 

Feelin' the LUV

 “Southwest Family” is often used to express the tight-knit relationships between Employees,  but the term carries particular significance for me.  My “Southwest Family” played an integral part in coordinating my engagement in New York City. I was aware of the fact that we were in New York to go on sales calls and host a luncheon for our Corporate Customers to educate about our EWR start of service.  I was NOT aware of the fact that my soon-to-be fiance had followed me to New York, where he would be waiting under a bridge in Central Park, with a ring, in the rain. Surprise! They don’t call it the LUV airline for nothin’.

Feelin' the LUV

SWAlloween

Last October, I decided to ignore the fact that I have two left feet, and participated in Marketing’s Halloween skit as a dancer. I was in a friend’s wedding that evening, so I rushed straight to the church to meet the wedding party for the rehearsal. Oh... and I was wearing a neon yellow jacket, tutu, and had a lightning bolt painted across my face. It took a lot to convince them that:

A) my ridiculous ensemble was a Lady Gaga costume I’d been required to wear that day, and

B). Yes, I came straight from work.

My friends have learned to expect nothing less. On numerous occasions, I’ve been asked to keep my eye out for job openings in their respective fields. I’m struggling to find a fit at Southwest for the interior designers and nurses, but, hey, if you see the need, I’ve got some enthusiastic prospects. Reminders like these make me grateful every day to work for a Company so dedicated to its People and their development, a Company that has never had to furlough Employees, and a Company where coming in to work every day is FUN!

Lady Gaga

3 Comments
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Really liked your article and your Southwest story. First thing that caught my attention was the picture. You look so young, just like me! 🙂 What were some of your tricks to get past it. "You'll love it when your older"-gets old quickly. Good Luck to you!
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Nice writing . Gives great insight into what make southwest the Airline fly . How would you describe southwest culture in one word ?
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Really enjoyed your writing "voice" and your personal examples of working for SWA.