UMKC Student Interns for KC Aviation Department
by Vinh Pham on July 25, 2018
Greetings! My name is Vinh Pham, and I am a recent graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I was also a member of the UMKC’s Men’s Tennis team during my time there and we ended up winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament my senior year. From UMKC, I graduated with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and I look forward to furthering my career in the aviation and marketing field. Part of my career exploration was a student internship with the Kansas City Aviation Department.
I’ve had a passion for aviation since I was toddler when my dad would drive me 40 minutes about every other weekend to KCI Airport just to watch planes take off and land. On the other hand, tennis was also a developing passion for me when I was young so when things began to get more serious and competitive with the sport, my passion for aviation became dormant. However, my passion never completely disappeared.
As the last phase of my competitive tennis career, the collegiate level, came to end I had to figure out what I wanted to do for a living. I began searching and applying for entry level marketing positions as well as marketing internships without any luck. Like most recent graduates, I was stuck in the position of not knowing how to get the wheels over the ground with my career and I was becoming fearful. Crediting my girlfriend, she referred me to an online advertisement of the Hire KC Youth career fair that took place earlier in the spring. I saw that the Kansas City Aviation Department (KCAD) was looking for interns and my passion for aviation immediately sparked back to life. I attended to the career fair and met with the KCAD representative and, to my surprise, he told me that KCAD’s marketing division was looking for an intern. I was ecstatic.
For my marketing degree and my passion to have the opportunity to come together at a time like this was a true blessing and reading the job description was just icing on the cake. The tasks were everything that I wanted to do. That included things like running social media, capturing photos/video on a DSLR camera, configuring media inventory and writing press releases. I immediately got in touch with Joe McBride who is now my manager. We scheduled an interview, and he hired me on the spot.
My role as a marketing intern is basically to act as an assistant to my manager Joe, the other marketing manager and the director of marketing at KCAD. The marketing division at KCAD is relatively small so their burden often becomes quite heavy with work. This is where I come in to take some of that weight off of their shoulders and take care of some of their lower priority tasks. Those tasks include running KCAD’s social media pages, researching other airport social media activity, take photos/shoot video, writing press releases, assist with event planning, and a couple of long-term projects to work on my own. For the duration of my internship, I’ve been pretty fortunate in terms of the variety of things I was able to partake in.
My first week in I got to post on our social media pages regarding the Icelandair inaugural flight which was the first-ever transatlantic flight out of Kansas City. I also got to assist in event planning for the pre-flight celebration. Fast forward towards the end of my internship, I got to assist White House personnel in preparation for the visit of the President of the United States and ending up meeting the President himself. In between these events I had the opportunity to do many other fun things that I could go on about.
Honestly, I’ve enjoyed every day of my internship and there are a number highlights that I can refer to in terms of learning experiences. Prior to this internship, I had no experience in any type of office setting so the first week I definitely felt some effects of culture shock. As far as prior work experience, I had always done something tennis related and the work atmosphere there was pretty informal and laid back. Once I came here, I had to sharpen my formal communication skills and develop office etiquette which my manager mentored me with. These are basic skills that translate across the board in a business setting and I am very grateful to have received help in developing these skills.
I am somewhat proficient with most of the tasks, however, my press release writing was definitely a weakness of mine. I’m a decent writer but I didn’t know how to format or write a press release in the most effective way. Writing press releases was right up the alley for my manager Joe so he did a great job in teaching me how to effectively write a press release on behalf of KCAD.
Another thing that stood out to me was the planning that goes into the new terminal that we will begin constructing here at KCI in the coming years. I was able to attend design and rendering meetings and this really opened my eyes to how much work needs to be put in for a project of this size. There has to be so much input from so many different entities to make things run smoothly. Entities like airlines, our aviation department, construction companies, the FAA, etc. Who knew a passion for aviation and a career fair would land me a great internship; the whole experience has taken me to new heights, and today I am soaring toward a career in marketing.