Exploring New Horizons at Southwest Summer Camp

This summer GenHERation partnered with Southwest Airlines to send five of our members to Dallas, Texas for Southwest Summer Camp. At Camp the young women received the unique opportunity to experience the Southwest culture and explore career opportunities within the company. Three of the attendees, Alexandra, Karla, andLakshmi, flew (for the first time ever!) from the small town of Watsonville, California. These young women all attend Ceiba College Preparatory Academy in Watsonville and were excited for their adventure at camp. Alexandra mentioned that she “was delighted to be exposed to different cultures, work fields, and people as [she] knew that camp would be more diverse than what [she] was used to.” Another Southwest Summer camper was Meghna, who attends the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey. Meghna was initially interested in attending the Southwest Summer Camp due to her interest in exploring her passions for entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence. Adhya, the fifth GenHERation member to attend Southwest Summer Camp, has a passion for aeronautics and entrepreneurship and traveled from Oklahoma City, where she attends the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to work at Southwest Airlines.

Throughout the week, the girls were provided with numerous opportunities to dig deeper into the Southwest culture and really explore what Southwest Airlines is all about. Here are the top five takeaways from Southwest Summer Camp 2018.

Takeaway #1: Southwest Has a Little Something for Everyone

During the Southwest Summer Camp, the participants were able to interact with professionals from many different departments at Southwest Airlines. They listened to keynote speakers from the Network Planning and Cybersecurity teams. The campers were also able to chat with employees from the Safety and Security, Communications and Outreach, Supply Chain Management, and Flight Operations departments. Hands-on breakout sessions were integrated throughout camp to simulate real life scenarios that Southwest employees encounter every day.

Karla shared, “I was interested in discovering the types of roles that the employees have at Southwest. I know that many people see a successful company when they get on a Southwest plane without thinking in depth about how the airline works, so I wanted to gain more insight about the work behind all the success. For example, ‘who takes my luggage?’By participating in Southwest Summer Camp, I was able to learn more about how Southwest functions in planning and executing its goals to satisfy their customers’ needs.”

Takeaway #2: Southwest Invests in their Employees’ Happiness

Southwest Airlines is known for its high quality customer service, but it also provides its Employees with a welcoming and thriving workplace where everyone can succeed.

Lakshmi noticed, “Southwest Airlines deeply cares about its Employees! All of the employees truly enjoy their jobs. For example, on the third day of camp, I went to the Communication and Outreach panel where I spoke with an employee who works on the Employee Engagement Team. He told my group and I that he loves his job and that he’s been working with Southwest for 17 years and plans going on for another 40 more! Now that I know what Southwest offers their Employees and how they are huge on customer service, I have a better idea about what kind of environment I want to work in.”

Takeaway #3: Family is the Core of Southwest Airlines’ Culture

Embarking on a new journey or experience can be scary, but if embraced by a welcoming environment, that new situation can seem much more manageable. Alexandra, one of the GenHERation members from Ceiba Prep, spoke about the family environment the Southwest Employees created for Campers. For young women like Alexandra, it helped to feel included, especially when going completely out of her comfort zone. Alexandra stated, “As soon as I met my team’s supervisor a Senior Instructor from Leadership & Employee training, I discovered a key part of the culture at Southwest: family. The Southwest employee welcomed me as if she had known me for years, helping me integrate with the other campers at the event.”

Takeaway #4: Southwest Airlines Lives by Its Three Core Values: A Warrior Spirit, a Fun-LUVing Attitude, & a Servant’s Heart

As the campers reflected on their time at Southwest Summer Camp, they all mentioned how they embraced Southwest’s three core values and plan to apply the lessons they learned to their own lives.

Fun-LUVing Attitude: A critical part of is the success of Southwest is creating an enjoyable and comfortable work environment for all Employees. While touring the Southwest offices, Adhya pointed out her favorite features of the workspace: an inspirational quote wall, themed break areas, and a bridge that connects not just the physical buildings on the Southwest campus but also all Employees metaphorically as the bridge features the names of Southwest employees

Warrior Spirit: Southwest Employees work around the clock to ensure customer loyalty. The team of Employees that coordinated the Southwest Summer camp truly embodies this notion. They all gave 110% into creating a memorable experience for the participants–these efforts most certainly did not go unnoticed. This same attitude is something Employees carryout in their everyday encounters with customers.

Servant’s Heart: Another core value that Southwest prides itself on is displaying a Servant’s Heart in everything that they do. Southwest Airlines likes to give back to the community, and does so whenever they can. The participants at summer camp were able to partake in Southwest’s passion for giving back to the local community through a volunteerism event where we took old t-shirts and transformed them into dog toys. The toys were then donated to an animal shelter.

Takeaway #5: Southwest Airlines is in the Business of Connecting People

When asked about the biggest benefit of participating in Southwest Summer Camp, Meghna explained, “I heard important advice and developed a network of people that I connected with throughout the week. The advice I was given at camp will definitely be applied to my professional pursuits. I learned that establishing a network and reaching out to others will help you gain new information and opportunities for internships, careers, and more. Ialso learned that Southwest Airlines has jobs that pertain to my interests.”

After spending a week in Dallas, the girls had a wonderful experience where they learned what it truly means to be an employee at Southwest Airlines.

Contributor: Ally Massimi


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