Summer internship gives students an intense six-week glimpse of airport life
Aerospace engineering is fascinating for Sun Lake High School senior Jack Walker. But for his future, he sees himself in the air.
“Your office has a better view when you’re 40,000 feet up,” Jack said.
Jack is just one of five high school interns enrolled in the Airport Management and Internship Program, a partnership among TPA, local high schools and the Tampa Bay Regional Aeronautics Academy. The program compresses an Embry Riddle semester into six weeks, leaving the students with three college credits and invaluable experience.
The program, managed by Operations Administration Manager Aimee Pidgeon and instructed by Pasco County Schools Aviation Academy Manager Bryan Sawyer, gives the students real-world aviation experience while teaching them the workings of a major international airport. The students spend their time learning about different airport careers such as operations, marketing, communications, human resources and other departments at TPA.
“Working with operations primarily, we try to connect whatever is being taught in class with the real world outside these doors, which is actually right outside the door.” Bryan Sawyer said. “Whether it’s the financial element, police, fire department, a variety of entities that make up airport management – it’s much more dynamic here at Tampa International Airport rather than at a small airport.”
After its third year at TPA, CEO Joe Lopano decided to extend the program for the next six years, granting dozens of local high school students the experience of a lifetime.
The students agreed that their favorite parts of the internship so far included night operations and their time with the Airport police department. Four of the five students said they are working toward careers as Air Force pilots.
“I think this is not only a huge resume booster for me when I’m applying to jobs later in life,” said Troy Yoakum, Robinson High School senior, “but it has also really helped me develop a better sense of understanding into airport jobs and has helped me broaden my horizons.”