Lessons from Southwest Airlines Executives: 4 Ways to Be the Pilot of Your Career

With a network of 101 destinations across the United States, Southwest Airlines works to connect people to important experiences in their lives. As a partner on our GenHERation Discovery Days tour, Southwest Airlines hosted 50 high school and college women at their headquarters in Dallas, Texas to explore career opportunities throughout the company. After spending the day with Southwest Airlines executives, four participants shared the most important lessons they will apply to their professional pursuits.

Lesson 1: Your Career is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

“Southwest Airlines was exciting because the interaction with female leaders was informative. The women leaders shared their work experience at Southwest as well as having a work-life balance. Leah Koontz, Vice President Controller, said, ‘Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.’ I believe this quote is important to young women starting their careers in a male-dominated technology industry. Also, I learned that it is better to try different things in life without being afraid. Also, Elizabeth Bryant, Vice President of Southwest Airlines University, said, ‘Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.’ I especially believe this quote is helpful for young learners and innovators to help with the longevity of their career. I learned the importance of not being afraid to experiment with innovative ideas in my career.”

-Aishwarya T.

Lesson 2: You Must Give in Order to Receive

“After talking with some of the panelists and hearing their answers to some of the questions we would ask them, I learned a lot about how to be successful in the business world. I learned that it is critical to possess a willingness to learn and pick up new skills as you advance your career. I learned how important it is to network with not only other people who are in the same profession as you, but with everyone, because you never know who could know someone who could get you an interview for your next job. Most importantly, as many of them stressed to us, I learned that it is also essential to give back, in the sense of always educating other young women who may have questions about how to get somewhere you have already been. Ellen Torbert, Southwest’s Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, also emphasized that as young leaders we must surround ourselves with people who inspire and challenge us.”

-Jennifer L.

Lesson 3: We’re All in This Together

“Meeting with these top executives and hearing their stories reaffirmed the possibility of achieving your goals with constant dedication, hard work, courage, and confidence in one’s self. Furthermore, I also realized the importance of networking with individuals who can provide mentorship, support, and valuable knowledge to create a smooth career growth. The highlight of the trip for me was when we were given the opportunity to interact with both the hiring managers and the top executives and receive one-on-one guidance to help me be a more competitive candidate for future jobs and internships.”

-Ololade M.

Lesson 4: The People Make the Place

“The GenHERation trip was definitely the highlight of my summer; I had so much fun! My favorite aspect was walking into Southwest and being greeted by workers with confetti and pompoms; we all felt so special! The female corporate executives went out of their way to provide us with tips for applying for jobs as well as how to move up in a company and work with others. My favorite piece of advice was when Linda Rutherford, Vice President, Chief Communications Officer of Southwest Airlines, shared that the most important skill a leader can possess is the ability to listen to others. I learned so much about corporate culture and how to design my resume so that I can get the job that I want. Imagine being able to get all this in one day, completely amazing!”

-Brigette R.

For more information about career opportunities at Southwest Airlines visit www.southwest.com/careers.

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