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Bon Voyage (and Welcome), Interns!

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I’m never prepared for this.  Three times a year, I find myself dealing with some really strange feelings—those darn “goodbye” emotions that I am just terrible at.

You may have read about our Southwest Airlines No Limits Internship Program and all the incredible things the Interns get to do during their tenure at the Company. But today, I hope to shed some light on what the Employees go through with each new group of “kids” that come in and go out of our crazy Southwest lives.

They arrive their first day all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and everyone smiles and gives them a typical warm and cheery Southwest Airlines welcome, all the while waiting to meet the real personalities of these “youngsters” ; it’s not long before they come out.  Every semester, without fail, we get shy Interns, outgoing Interns, Mr.  & Ms. Popularity Interns, budding stand-up comic Interns, and every type of Intern in between.  It’s amazing to see the personalities develop within the group and to watch the strong bonds of friendship that some of them form as they learn about each others’ departments and use their flight privileges to travel like maniacs all over the SWA System! 

It’s always a little more exciting when there are Interns around the office.  If they aren’t telling college stories that bring memories rushing back to us all, they are schooling us on the latest trends, amazing us with their stellar Excel skills, and teaching us how to use Facebook to its maximum potential.  And it’s only during Intern season that you can see a bunch of college kids sprinting through the halls of Headquarters trying to win the coveted title of Amazing Race Champions.

This summer semester was a little different for the Executive Office; we had three Interns: Cody Conover, Taylor Trncak, and Paige Gonzalez.  Some of you might recognize their names; all three of them are true “Southwest Babies.”  I am here to tell you that, while their names may have gotten their resumes a second look, these three kids earned their way in to the cubicles (and hearts) here at SWA Headquarters.  When given tasks, they finished them with such SPIRIT (and with so much laughter), that it was hard to not want to jump in and work alongside them…so we all did.  As usual, our Interns quickly became part of our Family, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I am trying not to admit it to myself, but the last round of Interns is back at school and/or have gone on to successful careers in all sorts of different fields.  In my heart, and I know I am not alone, I secretly wish that all of them will come right back here where they belong.   Some of the Interns actually will be hired right out of the program, but the majority of them aren’t quite finished with college, so we have to let them go.  And here is where the hard part comes in.

Their last week is filled with storytelling and picture taking, final trips to favorite lunch spots, lots of big hugs, and even a few tears.  (This goes on with every group of Interns that passes through.)  We can only hope that our “kids” take away as much from Southwest Airlines as they have left with us, that they continue to Live the Southwest Way, and, no matter what, that they always keep LUV in their hearts.

So as hard as it will be to send them all out into the world,  our new crop of SWA Interns arrives today. But can we please figure out a way to avoid this whole “goodbye” thing next time? 

To all our Summer 2008 Interns: Thanks for everything, you guys! It’s been a pleasure to work with you and we will miss you all!

LUV, Your Southwest Family