This summer, the Campus Reach Team held Southwest Airlines’ first Network Planning Bootcamp at Southwest’s Headquarters in Dallas, TX. Network Planning Bootcamp is a two-day, career development event for college students pursuing an education in related fields. The event introduces participants to Network Planning’s core competencies and functions. Students develop the skills needed for a successful career in Network Planning through hands-on and experiential learning.
The Campus Reach Team leveraged college and university partnerships to connect with interested, potential student participants. We were excited to have 59 college students attend the Network Planning Bootcamp, from 10 universities across the U.S. The below is written by Network Planning Bootcamp attendee and student at the University of Alabama, Hudson Hadd.
Howdy, my name is Hudson Hadd and I am from Austin, Texas. I am a junior at the University of Alabama, majoring in Operations Management. Growing up, I was always fascinated by airports and the sheer amount of logistics required for their operation to run smoothly. Throughout my life, I watched Southwest Airline’s Passenger count surge as they added non-stop flights from the Austin, Bergstorm International Airport. So, when the opportunity arose to attend Southwest’s Network Planning Bootcamp, I did not hesitate to apply.
The Network Planning Bootcamp was a day and a half whirlwind of activities. My main takeaway was how interwoven Network Planning is with other Company Departments. We met with representatives from Ground Operations, Revenue Management, and the NOC to discuss their Department’s connection to Network Planning. These discussions helped me understand the many factors Network Planning has to consider before executing a plan. For example, allowing more turn-time on a Sunday afternoon flight from Orlando to Chicago rather than an evening route from Houston to Dallas on a weekday. The first day of Bootcamp, we played various games (like musical gates). These games helped me to visualize some of the constraints Network Planning has to consider. These activities laid the groundwork for the second day of camp and our primary challenge.
On Day 2, we were introduced to the Network Planning game. Each group was given a fleet of eight planes along with various routes that had to be included in our mock schedules, and routes we could include if space permitted. We received additional information, like minimum turn-times for each airport, curfews, gate restraints, and more. The groups had an hour to come up with the best schedule that met all the requirements and constraints.
I could have easily spent all day working on our schedule! Unfortunately, the hour flew by. While my group’s schedule was not perfect, we were quite satisfied with it. Even though the game was short, it gave a quick glance into the world of a Network Planner and summarized everything we learned at Bootcamp.
My interest in pursuing an internship or full-time opportunity with Southwest increased exponentially after witnessing the Company’s one-of-a-kind Culture. I look forward to applying for a Spring 2018 internship and hopefully having the opportunity to build upon the knowledge I gained at the first ever Network Planning Bootcamp.