This is the question on everyone’s mind after the grind of flight school. Students and instructors alike will have different ideas and advice on how to get your foot into the door in a difficult and ever-changing industry. Oftentimes, you’re operating on rumors, and there’s no way to verify any of the information that you’re receiving.
My biggest and baddest advice I can give you, as someone currently IN the industry is this:
Get to know people in the industry, in particular people CURRENTLY at the companies you are interested in. Disregard any rumors, tips, or heresy you hear from your instructors, other students, your uncle, and your flying buddy at the airpark. I’m not knocking their advice, I’m sure they are well-informed and have many things to say, but this is how you hone in and really focus on the meat and potatoes of the information out there.
Some good questions to ask pilots are:
- What are your likes and dislikes at the company?
- How long have you been with the company for?
- What is the starting pay like?
- How are upgrades and pay increases handled?
- How easy is it to collaborate with and contact management?
- Did you feel like your training prepared you for your first day on the line?
Of course this is not a comprehensive list by any means. Modify and add to it as you see fit. But whatever you do, don’t skip this step. Don’t desperately rush off to some operation in Ontario totally in the blind, or you might be in for a nasty surprise.
And this ties nicely into my second life tip for new pilots. It’s by far the best secret to getting a sweet job.
GET TO KNOW EVERYONE, AND ANYONE. Make friends in the industry. Be curious, be friendly. Ask questions, and offer to help out around the airport. If you’re at flight school, get to know every student, instructor, and manager. In particular for instructors, get to know the people you are teaching, maybe even consider joining the local flying club. Do not underestimate the power of networking. Networking is KEY in this industry.
Your buddy who is a part-time owner of so-and-so’s plane will know of a guy looking to hire someone on his jet. Alright, maybe you won’t get that lucky right off the bat, but you know what I mean. You’ve heard talk of how small the industry is, so leverage that to your advantage. Be authentic, and be yourself. Put yourself out there. The more people you connect with, the more opportunities WILL open up, and it only will be a matter time before the golden opportunity comes knocking at your door.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this gives new students and fresh commercial pilots alike hope for getting that first gig. The jobs are out there, and you will find one! Keep on being positive, hopeful, and working hard. It’s only a matter of time before your break comes too.