I found myself becoming increasingly concerned as I approached college graduation without any real-world work experience. I could never truthfully state to my peers I enjoyed my major because I never was privileged with a working opportunity in my field of study. I even began to question whether or not I made the right choice for myself and my future.
To my surprise, I finally have an answer to my uncertainty after an unforgettable summer in Columbus.
This summer, I was quite fortunate to be under Columbus Municipal Airport Director Brian Payne’s tutelage as his administrative intern. I came to Columbus hungry, eager and ready for the new learning experience. Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect. I assumed they would start me off easy with a simple day in the office doing mindless tasks accompanied with traditional introductions. I was wrong. Payne wasted no time getting me acquainted with the entire 3,000 acres of airport property. I was amazed with the amount of activity on both the land and air side.
Things didn’t stop there either. My second day of work I was exposed the political aspect of being an airport manager while attending an airport board meeting. After my second day, I realized my time in Columbus was going to be an adventure.
As the summer progressed, Payne would continue to expose me to new ventures and rigors of airport management and the aviation industry overall. I would have the opportunity to learn about the many elements of project management, including: planning, proposal submission, board approval, funding and allocation of awarded funds.
In addition to the various management components, I was able to enhance my knowledge and abilities in airport operations when I worked alongside Assistant Airport Manager Carlos Laverty. He introduced me to several facets of airport operations I’ll be able to implement when I manage an airport in the future.
Toward the end of my internship, I worked closely with Office Director Melinda Finley, who handles all transactions for the airport’s accounts. I learned how to perform her daily duties that involve entering receipts, claims, doing payroll and scheduling events at the airport. Working with Finley allowed me to better familiarize myself with finances and polish my organization skills.
Working at the airport this summer reassured my decision I made four years ago. Payne, Laverty and Finley gave me the best experience I could have ever asked for. What my professors failed to teach me over four years, my peers were able teach me in three months. I’ll definitely miss them, but I’m sure I’ll be back to visit.
This year I’ll graduate from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in aviation management. I’m not sure which airport the future has in store for me. I do know that I’ve now acquired the right tools that will allow me to head in the right direction.
James Dobson was the administrative intern at Columbus Municipal Airport.