Want to learn how you too can become a Southwest Intern? Register here to receive more information on how to apply, and how to attend our virtual information session on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 5 p.m. C.T. Prior to her eight years as a Tax Accountant, Kiki Gao was an Intern in our Corporate Tax Department. Read on to hear her story from Intern to full-time Employee and her passion for working at Southwest. Where my Journey at Southwest Began When I received my offer for an internship at Southwest, I shouted with joy, cried, and called my mom, who then did the same. In my undergraduate classes at Baylor University and graduate classes at the University of Dallas, I had repeatedly heard about Southwest being an amazing place to work because of the Culture. One random night, I saw the job posting for an internship and decided to apply—it felt out of reach but I had nothing to lose! I had no clue that my internship would turn into a career at a Company I love. On my first day as an Intern, as I walked through the doors at our Corporate Campus, a sense of calm came over me. In that moment, it felt meant to be. I decided then that I never wanted to leave. It was an honor meeting and speaking with Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly during my internship One of my favorite memories as an Intern is meeting with Senior Leaders at the Company. At one specific meet and greet, I met Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus. I remember crying as I hugged and thanked Colleen for all she’s done for Southwest, and Colleen responding that she would cry too! There was such a strong feeling of connection to Southwest and meeting Colleen was an unforgettable moment. Another favorite memory is flying standby on any Southwest flight as an Intern! I even used this perk once to fly to Washington, D.C. for a friend’s wedding (whose dad turned out to be a Southwest Pilot!). A Career with Heart After my internship, the Corporate Tax Department offered me a full-time position where my love for Southwest grew even more. There’s nothing like experiencing the Southwest Culture first-hand! Me (left) dressed as Cookie Monster celebrating Halloween 2019 with CFO Tammy Romo (right) dressed as Lucy from Peanuts My two favorite events to celebrate during the year are definitely Halloween and Heroes of the Heart. Halloween is a huge, all-day celebration where Cohearts and their families dress up, play games, and more. Even Southwest stations across the country join in on the celebrations by decorating airports and dressing up in Halloween costumes. At the Heroes of the Heart event, Southwest awards a behind-the-scenes Team that doesn’t directly interact with Customers to recognize their contributions to improve the Customer Experience. Every Valentine’s Day since 1992, the winner is unveiled to the rest of the Company. Having a Servant’s Heart is an important attribute at Southwest and my favorite way to serve others is to find a small way to make someone else’s day better. Whether it’s lending a helping hand or thanking the People around me for all that they do, I try to bring a smile to someone’s day! I have learned that every person is an important piece of a larger puzzle that is worth celebrating. My Biggest Takeaways My advice to future Southwest Interns? Take advantage of every opportunity; don’t worry about mistakes and learn along the way. Whether it’s a small task or a challenging project, go for it! Don’t let the fear of messing up get in your way. The People who have cared about my growth have encouraged me despite my mistakes. If you feel out of your comfort zone, you are doing something right! That is how we expose ourselves to learn about those strengths. If we keep doing what feels comfortable, then we won’t tap into them. Another takeaway? Feedback is a gift. We are all works in progress trying to be our best, but we need others to help us get there. My Leader during my internship (who is also my Leader now!) provided invaluable mentorship, strengths development, and self-awareness both personally and professionally to get to where I am now. After more than eight years at the Company, I can’t imagine working anywhere else. Southwest is my Family and I just can’t leave Family. I often joke that if Southwest’s Corporate Campus relocated to the middle of nowhere, I would move with it because the People and Culture are unlike anywhere else. You just can’t build that or put a price on it—it’s intangible! Are you interested in an internship at Southwest Airlines? If so, please complete our Campus Reach Interest Form for notifications on 2022 opportunities or check out the Campus Reach page to read more about our internships! My Intern class comprised of students from various states and universities! Throughout the years, I have realized that every part of my journey was worth it. I am so appreciative of the process and knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be. Southwest is family for me, and it all started the moment I clicked submit on that internship application. If you’re interested in a career with Heart, then you’re encouraged to apply. You never know what could happen! If you are interested in a career at Southwest Airlines, visit careers.southwestair.com or join our Talent Community !
... View more
We’re often asked if Campus Reach Interns are ever hired for full-time employment after their internship. Our answer: we love hiring interns! The Campus Reach Program has built a talent acquisition pipeline here at Southwest, so you will see many of our former Interns roaming the hallways now as full-time Southwest Employees.
Kiki Gao is one example. She interned in the Corporate Tax Department in spring 2013, and is now a Tax Accountant within Corporate Tax.
Year/semester of internship: Spring 2013
Department/Team interned for: Corporate Tax
Department/Team and current job title: Corporate Tax, Tax Accountant
Years at Southwest: 3.5 amazing years!
Favorite Southwest city: Mexico City
Most memorable Southwest moment/event: My first day as a full-time Southwest Employee fell on the same day as my birthday—best present ever! Also, during 2014, I had the chance to participate in the annual Southwest Airlines Pigskin Plane Pull, where Employees who are alums of OU and Texas compete to see which team can pull an 83,000-pound Southwest Airlines 737 the fastest!
First ever job: My first job ever was in the Baylor University mail room when I was an undergrad; I was obsessed with sorting the mail super-fast so people could get their mail and care packages ASAP!
Proudest Southwest moment: I am filled with pride every time I see my Southwest Family interact and help our Customers (both external and internal). I feel honored and proud to be part of it.
Words to live by: The Golden Rule. Also, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” –J. K. Rowling
Reasons other people should intern at Southwest: When you intern for Southwest, you become a part of the Southwest Family and will be treated as such. The Southwest Culture is second to none: if you want to learn about the aviation industry, work on exciting and challenging projects, meet your future best friends, surround yourself with superb Leaders and mentors, help the Community around you, and feel you’ve made a difference with your contribution, then Southwest is the place for you.
Ultimate travel tip: Fly into Mexico City in the evening and pick a window seat on the left side of the aircraft—the sea of lights you see as you land is spectacular!
... View more