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The Southwest Cure for a Midlife Crisis

blusk
Not applicable
When life gives you a second chance, grab it.  I had just finished 18 ½ years at another airline, and my career had "flat-lined."  No growth, no advancement, and little satisfaction.  I was facing a forced transfer to a less-than-desirable location due to cutbacks, and I made the difficult decision to let go, in spite of seniority and what was, at the time, job security.  However, "airline" was in my blood because, in addition to my own career, I had grown up in an airline family.  I wanted to get back into the industry, but I only wanted to work for Southwest. So at age 42, I did the "Al Bundy" gig selling ladies shoes at a department store in order to pay the bills (don't worry, I didn't emulate Al's sofa "stance"), but when I saw a Southwest ad for new Reservations Sales Agents, I jumped.  The day I was able to march into the store's office to give my notice that I was saying adios for Southwest was one of the happiest days of my life.  No more searching the storage room shelves for an elusive size 7B for a shoe somebody had to have, but which had not been in stock for six months.  That was 11 years ago. A recurring question on this blog is "does Southwest like to hire older Employees?"  I can answer a resounding YES!  Besides me, my Reservations class had older New Hires, along with a couple of folks in their very early twenties.  That was true when I was hired, and it is true today.  I know how dangerous it is to guess ages, especially with women, but at Company events, I often see New Hires my age or older, and they represent every department from Ground Operations, to Inflight, to Reservations, and to Headquarters.  Just today, I saw our newest Flight Attendant training class enter the building, and there were a lot of folks my age among them.  Some of our older Employees are like me, too young to retire, and others have retired but are too young to stop working. What has my second chance meant for me?  Well if I had stayed at "Brand X," I would have just completed 30 years, and I probably would have been totally disillusioned and jaded.  It's hard to list all of the benefits of changing careers, but foremost, it has made coming to work each day a fun event.  I almost hate it when I have to take vacation.  Remember, I said "almost"–I LUV my job, but I like to play too!  Working in such a diverse environment has kept me feeling and thinking young, even if my body won't cooperate, and I finally have been able to combine my love of writing, which had been dormant since college, with my love of aviation.  At the same time, our younger Employees benefit from working with older Coworkers who can provide maturity and a worldly outlook to their jobs. My advice to anyone is that you are never too old to work for Southwest, and if you are interested, go for it.  A list of our available positions can be found on the Careers page at southwest.com.
12 Comments
FriendofBlogBoy
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Brian, We're all glad that SWA has fantastic people like you. For my fellow passengers who rarely get to meet any of the "behind-the-scenes" people like Brian, let me tell you that you couldn't meet a nicer guy, and that he is indicative of ALL of the non-flight personnel at the HQ building. I've had the opportunity to visit there several times, and I have never once run into any sourpusses! As I have often observed in businesses, the climate of the place and the attitudes of the employees most usually flow down from upper management. If there was ever any doubt that Herb and Colleen and Gary aren't the really nice people that they seem to be in news bites and on TV, just look at the folks who work for them for the proof! My hats off to my bud, Brian! Your 50-year-old pal who may just someday decide to apply to SWA himself, Kim :) P. S. This is a disclaimer -- I really did write these nice things about Brian; he did not edit my comments to make himself look good! LOL
Susie_Q_
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I spent my 1st year anniversary and my 50th birthday at SWA........and that was almost 5 years ago!! Best career move I ever made! Working as a CSA at PBI, we have a lot of "senior" passengers. I jokingly tell them that OLD is over 100 unless your knees tell you otherwise.
Becky2
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If you think you are too old to change careers, you aren't I started my career as a SWA Flight Attendant at the age of 50! That was the best move I have ever made. Being my age I was a nervous wreck going into flight attendant training. Guess what? There were 18 people in my class older than myself. Young and old, at Southwest we are all family. And I am doubly lucky to have a daughter and a neice that fly for Southwest as well. So come join us for lots of fun!!! As they say, "if you aren't living on the edge, you are taking up to much space!!
PLM
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Brian - I LUV your article! It could not have come at a better time - I just turned 49 two days ago and am in the "pool" ANXIOUSLY awaiting training!!! As a former 8th grade Algebra teacher - I KNOW I have made the right decision and cannot wait to become a part of this wonderful Southwest family! Thanks again for the article---hopefully we will cross paths someday!!! PLM
Dave48
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Nice to see those comments...At the ripe old age of 52, I like others am awaiting my class to be called so that I can become a productive family member for Southwest...After spending fifteen years in radio and another ten selling metal...(cars and trucks), I figure it's time to try something with a challenge...(just kiddin)...I love travelling and will they really let me play with the microphone on the plane? I can hardly wait....Hope to meet some of you in Dallas....
Patti3
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My 60th birthday gift to myself was a new career - as a flight attendant with SWA! It was a second chance in life that few people enjoy. As a young woman of 20, I was accepted by United to go for training in September of 1965, when there were still LOTS of restrictions and qualifications in the field. I met Jim, my husband now of 40 years, on that September's Labor Day Weekend. Vietnam was going on, there was a draft at the time, and being a F/A required being single. Need I say more? We married & raised two kids. Over the the years I worked in both the retail and secretarial fields. Then, in January of 2005, flying cross country to my older brother's funeral in California, two SWA flight attendants suggested to me that I apply to Southwest. I laughingly replied, "Oh sure, like they're going to hire a 59 year old woman!" They both assured me with confidence that there were older people in their training classes. My husband has cheered me (it took well over a YEAR from first application to the first day of training); supported me (because HE loves me, he KNEW there was no way they could turn me away once they met me), then consoled and encouraged me (training was STRESSFUL, as you all know!). Our 33 year old daughter's response to this endeavor was, "You go Mom!" And, the 31 year old son said, "You're gonna do what? Why?" Later followed up by, "Does this mean I'll get to fly for free?" Spoken like a true son! So, its been a scary, wonderful, exciting, and enriching trip. And, it gets better with each passing flight. My thanks to SWA for this opportunity, to Sarah Roork (SWA F/A) for suggesting it, and obviously to my husband for sharing in the dream. And thanks for this opportunity to share my joy!
blusk
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Thanks to everyone who has posted so far. Your stories are more inspiring than my own, and a lot more interesting! I think these comments are just a small sampling of what makes Southwest great...and unique. Brian
kate
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Patti, at 59 am awaiting my class for flight attendant. What a dream come true for a girl who wants to keep growing and going. I had a career in medicine previously so I thought maybe I had nothing to offer to convince Southwest I was a good deal. Went to the interview and just had a ball being myself and to my amazement, am now going to go to class and hopefully spend the rest of my life with all the wonderful people at Southwest who enjoy a good sense of humor and love to color outside the lines. I think these types of human beingsare what has made Southwest great. Hope I can do the same when my time comes. I was not looking for a glamorous job, just a good one, where others seem to have a good old fashioned work ethic and are not afraid to work hard. Maybe our paths will cross, hope so. Enjoy your new career.
Jeannie
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Hello there, I am not sure I am writing to the appropriate place? But I need to make a comment on an outstanding employee. On July 26th I was on flight #2472 and wanted to comment on the flight attendant who's name is "Brent Dansby". What an awesome person he is!!! I must say Brent was absolutely great. I was having a really tough day and Brent came to my rescue. He is EXACTLY the reason I fly with Southwest. I hope his superiors have the chance to know what an outstanding employee they have in him. He went out of his way to make me comfortable and showed a lot of compassion doing his job. He went way above board and I appreciated having on my flight that day. I would love to thank him again for all of his help, and his compassion he gave me that day. Please forward this to him (and his superiors) for me. I will be taking the same flight soon, and I hope I might have the opportunity to see him again. Thanking him again, Jeannie
Candy
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Hi Everyone, I really related to this post, because I too started my new career with SWA as a late bloomer. At the ripe old age of 41, I left a secure and higher income job after 15 years with the same company and left behind some longtime relationships as well. We still try to stay in touch, but its difficult with my evening hours at the OKC Reservation Center and they still work 8 to 5. This move was perfect for me and my family for many reasons. Though my husband is very protective, he has adapted well to my driving home in the middle of the night..2..3..or sometimes later (I live only 5 miles). We love the flexibility to trade shifts, allowing me to have more time off than ever before. Of course, all the perks and benefits that come along with working for such a successful airline are great. But the best thing of all is, I've been able to work fulltime and still take care of my Granddaughter (3 yrs old now). If I was still 8 to 5 that would be impossible since her parents have daytime jobs. My life has turned upside down with working evenings, but its been sooooo worth it to soar with the best. Thanks SWA. I am truly blessed. Luv Candy
michael_hoeflin
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hello everyone, its nice to here different stories from people about career changes, i'm having my 40th birthday this year, i will be moving to orlando shortly looking for employment as a luv f/a. This is a job that i hold near to my heart because i worked as a f/a with other airlines. Only one is still in bussiness. Once flying gets into your blood it will be there forever. I stopped flying in 2004 because of the effects of sept 11 ,company money cut backs, my domicle phl closing and my airline filing for chapter 11. After being put out on the street from the airlines before that i was scared that the same thing would happen and i quit. That was truly one of the biggest mistakes that i made in my life, the airline is not longer in chapter 11 and is still flying. i miss it very much. So your saying what is he doing now? are you sitting down, i sell car radios at a major electronic store. from flying and seeing the world to getting somebody a radio for there car, what was i thinking when i did that. I currently live in west palm beach florida and will be moving to orlando in december to be near a large f/a domicle, its time for me to start flying again. I keep my eye on the website everyday to see when the flight attendant position opens and when it does i'll be buying a ticket to the open house, on southwest of course, haha. so wish me luck and just mybe i'll be able to spread my wings once again. michael
Wendy7
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WOW!!! Thank you all for this blog. I'm going to be 44 this year & have been in the "Corporate" world & a small business owner for over 22 years & decided this year to persue my life long dream as a F/A & of course Southwest is my #1 pick, I just received a call & email for my interview which is on 7/31/08 here in southern CA, I am elated. It seems that it is a long process so I will not get to exited about the next step I'm just so exited to have the chance to interview for such an awesome airline & seeing all your comments has me sitting on the edge of my seat. Thank you for your encouragement & I really hope to be working with you at SWA soon. Good luck to all in my shoes, and any additional advise from you seasoned F/A's would be LUVly, Wendy