Aviators' Thoughts

My job search and business aviation as seen on AviationWeek

Afternoon AOPA Summit Experience

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Going to a a gathering like AOPA for job hunting and networking is a lot like “cold calling” you really never know if you are going to be successful, but are excited by the possibilities.  I am happy to say that I did have some success…

After the morning summit, I went upstairs to the main exhibit area at the convention center. I was pleasantly surprised by amount of exhibits. Though not as large as NBAA I felt that it was still well represented. If one thing was lacking, it was the lack of aircraft manufacturer booths at the exhibit hall. No Cessna, no Mooney, not much to see in that respect. The only manufacturer I saw on the floor was REMOS and that was mainly because they were the AOPA prize plane for the year. Hopefully next year will see more aircraft makers back in the main exhibit areas. Otherwise there was a good mix of vendors from King Schools to the Pilot Mall. At first, I didnt know if it was worth it to be at the summit for my job hunt, but pressed on anyway.

Walking into the exhibit, the first thing I noticed was the AOPA Meetup area. I am impressed by how AOPA is embracing social networking. In the meetup area was a camera to their live feed on the web and a large Twitter board with updates. They were conducting live interviews the entire day. I had a chance to talk to the staff as well as a few of my friends from Twitter who I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet. There was also an internet kiosk area to check email and to blog, though I wish I had either and I-Phone or a Blackberry for that purpose.  The exhibit hall also had a central area with a raised stage for additional events, streaming to the AOPA internet feed.. I would be nice to see NBAA embrace such forward thinking as the use of social networking at their next convention. Kudos to AOPA for moving so quickly into the social networking world to get the message out!

Wandering around the area, I talked to several vendors, but no real job leads at first. I then came across of booth of a subsidiary of a major energy company and I mentioned that their principal had two pilot openings on the West Coast. They didnt know about those openings, but after speaking for a while, the two gentlemen attending the booth were kind enough to take my business card and ask for an electronic copy of my resume. I am sure that their contacts will be invaluable and helpful in my job search and I am grateful for their help.

I had the opportunity to talk to several other vendors about their services and products. As usual, everyone was quite friendly. More than once, the small world of aviation reared its head again, as more than a few of the vendors either knew or had contacts with several mutual friends. Like Ive said before, mutual contacts are great ice breaker when you are trying to talk to people for the first time and shows just how valuable networking can be.

After spending a few hours on the exhibit floor I decided to take the shuttle bus to the static display at the airport. This resulted in one of the most surprising developments of the day, as my old saying of “talk to EVERYONE” really came in to focus..

I sat down on the bus and a slightly older gentlemen took the seat next to me. Having some time before we got to the airport we struck up a conversation and I quickly found out he was a retired pilot for major communications corporation in the southeast. He had flown down to the show in a new Cirrus aircraft he had bought and was enjoying his retirement. Of course, the conversation turned to my job hunt and as with the two gentlemen in the booth, he was kind enough to take my business card and ask for me to send him an email of my resume. I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of help that people who I barely know are willing to offer me. I am sure his assistance will be as great an asset as the others I have met. To say I was feeling better about coming to the AOPA Summit is an understatement.

The static area had a good mix of airplanes and aircraft manufacturers. The largest being Cessna with its new aircraft including the  Corvalis and the Citation Mustang. Diamond Aircraft was also well represented with its mockup of the D-Jet. Despite the down economy, there were plenty of new aircraft and models, to keep even the biggest GA fan happy. There is still quite a bit of life left in the GA world despite all the gloom and doom predictions.

Making my way back to the convention center, I was quite worn out by this point as I had been at the show for several hours. I was just about ready to leave for the day when I found out that I had won a really nice aviation calendar from the same booth that had taken my business card and asked for my resume earlier. I considered it a very happy coincidence! When I went up to the booth to pick up my prize, one of the attendants remarked that he had already talked to at least one person whose flight department has two jets in the central FL area and had forwarded my information to that individual. That really made my day and just reaffirmed that my networking efforts have been valuable.

It has been a long and exhausting week attending 2 shows in 3 days and driving over 300 miles from one end of the state to another, but I feel it has been tremendously productive. With such a high unemployment rate, especially in the pilot community, its going to be that extra effort that will eventually get me the job.

After all…Todays the Day!

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Written by tdwnds1

November 7, 2009 at 11:26 pm

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