Landing on Solid Ground: How I Secured a New Career after 28 Years as a Flight Attendant
April 29, 2014
I began my 28-year career with American Airlines as a ramp worker in 1985. I learned the ins and outs of the aviation industry and watched the air crews come and go, wondering what adventures awaited them. Little did I know that a year later, I would be in the air myself starting a long and fruitful career as a flight attendant.
With my home base in North Carolina, I traveled the world from North and South America, to the Caribbean, Paris and London. I always enjoyed my travels and the many new faces and friends I met along the way. I took great pride in my role, and was committed to taking the absolute best care of my passengers on each and every flight, which is why I was humbled and honored to receive the “Outstanding Employee of 2012 – Flight Attendant” award.
However, during the past decade, my wife and I became primary caregivers for my aging parents and in-laws. While my flight schedule was very flexible, I felt the need to be closer to home should an emergency arise. This point was driven home in 2010 with the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, when my flight and crew were grounded in London a week longer than scheduled (adding to the normal 10-14 nights away from home per month). In the background there was also the tragedy of 9/11 that gave cause for concern, and made me think about a potential career change when the time was right.
When American Airlines extended an "early out" retirement offer to flight attendants in 2012, it seemed the best time to close a very rewarding and successful career in exchange for a "new season" on the ground at home. My final departure from American was in September 2013. It was bittersweet leaving good friends and a steady job without a parachute, so to speak, since I didn’t have a new job lined up before I left.
I hadn’t looked for a new job in nearly three decades, so I knew I had to brush up on new skills, plus access available tools and resources. One of the most useful courses I took was an interactive LinkedIn class at a local community college, where I learned the importance of building and completing my LinkedIn profile. I updated my profile to include a good headshot and laser-focused my translatable skills and experiences towards sales. Once my profile was up to date, I started networking on LinkedIn.
Within weeks, I built a network of over 200 connections, and reconnected with an old friend who is president and co-owner of a marketing strategies and consulting company. Since he was already familiar with my career and work ethic, he readily realized that my experience as a flight attendant would translate well into a career in sales. After several conversations, I was hired as an Account Manager at Proforma Promographix. As a flight attendant, my job was to give my "customers" an excellent experience that they would gladly want to repeat. As I serve my clients in like manner, anticipating their needs and making every effort to stay one step ahead of them, I think I’ll be very successful at Proforma Promographix!
Now that I’m home full time in Raleigh, North Carolina, I can be a dependable caregiver for my parents and in-laws, while establishing and enjoying a new career with an income that may exceed what I was earning as a flight attendant. LinkedIn was instrumental in helping me secure this new life and career.