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The Art of Winging It

New Arrival

Have you ever walked into an airport with just a backpack and no end destination? It might seem crazy, but it’s just another weekend in the life of a Southwest Airlines Intern.

 

As the Visual Communications Intern at Southwest, being a creative problem solver is just part of the job description. Whether it be designing brochures and signage or working with clients to turn their creative vision into a reality, any designer will tell you that nothing goes according to plan. In my position, I have to be flexible and always ready to tackle the next challenge in front of me.

 

Myself (far left) and three other Southwest interns on a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe.Myself (far left) and three other Southwest interns on a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe.

This flexibility transfers over into my weekends as well. One of the privileges of being a Southwest Intern is the ability to fly standby to any of our 86 domestic destinations. With 13 weekends to travel, there are endless combinations of where you can spend your down time before it’s back to work on Monday morning. That being said, one of the caveats of flying standby is the uncertainty of whether or not you’ll make the flight!

 

Photo from a weekend trip to White Sands Nation Monument in New Mexico.Photo from a weekend trip to White Sands Nation Monument in New Mexico.

I’ve learned along the way to always have a backup to your backup plan, and when in doubt, just “wing it” (pun intended). Planning on going to Seattle this weekend but didn’t make the flight? Take the flight to Boston instead. Forgot to pack hiking shoes but ended up in Denver? Stop at a thrift store on your way to the trails. With endless adventures waiting to be had, you can’t sweat the small stuff!

 

 

 

This also means you have to be willing to go outside of your comfort zone. I’ve always been hesitant to try new things. A year ago I hadn’t even seen the west coast, and yet now I’ve been to over 20 cities in 12 states with the help of Southwest. I’ve had fresh crab in San Francisco, fried alligator in New Orleans, and hot chicken in Nashville. I’ve made lifelong friends from every corner of the country. The only way all of this was possible was by opening myself up to new experiences. Taking every opportunity that was presented to me and never second guessing it.

 

Southwest has given me the ability to embrace “the middle seat:” the uncomfortable moments, the unexpected conversations with strangers, and the feeling of uncertainty that comes with the unknown. It’s the experience of a lifetime and you come out of it as a better person both professionally and personally. As cliché as it sounds, if Southwest has taught me anything it’s that it’s not about the end destination, but the journey that gets you there.

 

Myself (far right) and three other Southwest interns at the top of the Hollywood Sign in L.A.Myself (far right) and three other Southwest interns at the top of the Hollywood Sign in L.A.