As a Colorado native, I wasn’t used to the Texas summer heat and its effects when I started my freshman year at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. Thankfully I quickly became accustomed to the Texas heat and fell in love with the state and the university. I decided to major in Communication, which lead me to discover my passion for people and paperwork. I looked for potential career opportunities and everything in my heart pointed to pursuing a career in Human Resources. I started reading books about business culture and researching companies that aligned with my views and passions; that is when I found Southwest Airlines. At Southwest, to “Live the Southwest Way” equates to maintaining a “Servant’s Heart,” embracing “the Warrior Spirit,” and bringing “a fun-loving attitude” to your work,” which are values that are important to me as a prospective employee.
I started traveling at a very young age and to this day, I still get a little pep in my step every time I get to fly. The more I started flying Southwest Airlines to and from college, the more I interacted with their employees, and the more I fell in LUV with Southwest. GenHERation provided me with the opportunity to apply for a chance to attend the Southwest Airlines Rally in Las Vegas and I knew this would be a great way to learn more about what makes Southwest Airlines one of the world’s most admired companies. I was in class checking my emails when I found out I won an opportunity to attend the Southwest Airlines Rally. I loudly squeaked of excitement and excused myself so I could do happy dance in the hallway.
Heidi Dart’s Flight to Las Vegas
I felt the same level of excitement at different moments in my journey to the Rally. I felt that excitement when I met Katlyn and Erika from GenHERation, the inspiring company that gave me this opportunity. I felt that excitement as I walked into the Rally and met some of the wonderful and passionate Southwest Airlines employees. Even as I left the Rally, the feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach gave me hope that one day I would find a job that would allow me to have as much pride in my work and company as the employees of Southwest do.
Melissa Hutchins (L) and Heidi Dart (R) at the Southwest Airlines Las Vegas Rally
My knowledge of Southwest, gained through my research of the company and my experiences as a Customer, came to life at the Rally! Their customer centric culture was evident through the way the employees interacted with each other, from the CEO Gary Kelly to Phoenix Ramp Agent Kendrick. They call themselves a family and after talking with multiple employees, I can see how much Southwest values its people. Everyone I talked to appreciatively shared how the company supports their personal and professional goals. “We work hard, but we have fun,” said Paula Powell Darensbourg, a Customer Support & Services Team Leader based in Chicago. Paula has been with Southwest for 21 years and I was so inspired to hear about her career journey.
Heidi Dart featured with Rally Coordinators Natalie O’Donnell (L) and Leslie Shults (R)
I learned more from the Rally than I could ever learn from a book. I met people who encouraged me to work for a company that cares about me and values my opinions. I saw firsthand how much Southwest Airlines listens to their employees’ ideas and concerns when the CEO hosted a live Q&A session at the Rally to answer questions from employees. In fact, the concept of hosting Rallies is based on the company’s openness to Employee suggestions to promote growth and collaboration. It was the dream of the Culture Services Team to start a way for the Southwest family to interact with each other through a large celebration across the country. Over time, that idea has evolved into the Rally that I attended in Las Vegas.
Heidi Dart (L) and Melissa Hutchins (R) in front of the Rally main stage
Thank you GenHERation and Southwest Airlines for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I feel confident that because of you, I will have a new energy and strive to make my workplace as positive and supportive as yours because everyone deserves to LUV their job.
Watch Heidi’s video to learn more about her key takeaways from the Southwest Airlines Las Vegas Rally.