FAA Student Volunteers?

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  1. #1
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    FAA Student Volunteers?

    Just out of curiosity, any current or past CTI's do an FAA Student Volunteer Internship while in school?? Almost finished with mine, and looking to see if its common at other programs around the country and if so, how is it?? Without a doubt, the BEST thing I have done as a CTI, and as a student. (speaking from my experience only of course)

  2. #2
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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    I did the VSW program at a level 10 tower. I agree, the hands-down best thing I've done. I had a 180 day assignment, and logged nearly 500 hours of monitoring time. I got to take the classroom training alongside new hires to the facility, and I made some incredibly valuable contacts and references. I memorized their maps and approach plates, and I'm pretty certain I could check out there in no time flat. I was the first VSW this facility had ever had, so there wasn't really an established set of tasks for me to do. I had to be really self-directed, and worked hard to kind of ingratiate myself in operations. I have a background in writing, so I wrote an actual LOA regarding emergency tower evacuations, and the edited the SOP about emergency procedures. I was allowed to participate in preliminary talks about re-engineering a tangle of taxiways and the remodel of a runway. I also did some admin-type things- made posters, shredded more documents than you could even imagine, and compiled training binders for the training specialist. When nobody had anything for me to do, I did a lot of self-study in the 7110. I looked at the whole thing as a long interview, an opportunity to show hard work and initiative and make impressions and shake hands.

    I was accepted in the Feb bid, but was given the enroute option, so my experience won't directly correlate, but I'm sure I'll draw on the experience of operating in an ATC environment and going through the training motions. When I left my assignment, though, all management and specialists and controllers told me to "hurry up and get back there," so I'm sure that if at any time I want to get back to the terminal side, I'd have an easier time ERRing in to that (very desirable) location than the average applicant. Not to mention, being able to have high-level management contacts on my reference sheet... I'd encourage anybody who's even considering it to go for it! I had the opportunity on my radar (hyuk hyuk) from my first day in CTI school, so building good rapport with my instructors was a big priority for me, as they're the ones that recommended candidates in my program. I'm not fully in the career yet (waiting for my full TOL, have returned OF306 forms), but can already tell that so much of this job is building relationships. If you're a bridge-burner, do not apply.

    Glad to hear that you had a great experience, too! Best of luck in the career. This is a totally nerve-wracking time, but so exciting.

  3. #3
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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    Quote Originally Posted by jakeflies View Post
    I did the VSW program at a level 10 tower. I agree, the hands-down best thing I've done. I had a 180 day assignment, and logged nearly 500 hours of monitoring time. I got to take the classroom training alongside new hires to the facility, and I made some incredibly valuable contacts and references. I memorized their maps and approach plates, and I'm pretty certain I could check out there in no time flat. I was the first VSW this facility had ever had, so there wasn't really an established set of tasks for me to do. I had to be really self-directed, and worked hard to kind of ingratiate myself in operations. I have a background in writing, so I wrote an actual LOA regarding emergency tower evacuations, and the edited the SOP about emergency procedures. I was allowed to participate in preliminary talks about re-engineering a tangle of taxiways and the remodel of a runway. I also did some admin-type things- made posters, shredded more documents than you could even imagine, and compiled training binders for the training specialist. When nobody had anything for me to do, I did a lot of self-study in the 7110. I looked at the whole thing as a long interview, an opportunity to show hard work and initiative and make impressions and shake hands.

    I was accepted in the Feb bid, but was given the enroute option, so my experience won't directly correlate, but I'm sure I'll draw on the experience of operating in an ATC environment and going through the training motions. When I left my assignment, though, all management and specialists and controllers told me to "hurry up and get back there," so I'm sure that if at any time I want to get back to the terminal side, I'd have an easier time ERRing in to that (very desirable) location than the average applicant. Not to mention, being able to have high-level management contacts on my reference sheet... I'd encourage anybody who's even considering it to go for it! I had the opportunity on my radar (hyuk hyuk) from my first day in CTI school, so building good rapport with my instructors was a big priority for me, as they're the ones that recommended candidates in my program. I'm not fully in the career yet (waiting for my full TOL, have returned OF306 forms), but can already tell that so much of this job is building relationships. If you're a bridge-burner, do not apply.

    Glad to hear that you had a great experience, too! Best of luck in the career. This is a totally nerve-wracking time, but so exciting.

    You're annoyingly admirable. In a 100% positive way, o'course. It's nice to read about someone who's cut from the same cloth AND coming from the PNW (such as myself). Can't wait to meet you and finally put a face to the name! I hope we're at the Academy at the same time.

    PS I am dying to check out that level 10 and am jealous of your experience there- I really need to set up a time to tour! I would not mind retiring from that facility at all, I've only heard good things.

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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    Quote Originally Posted by jakeflies View Post
    I did the VSW program at a level 10 tower. I agree, the hands-down best thing I've done. I had a 180 day assignment, and logged nearly 500 hours of monitoring time. I got to take the classroom training alongside new hires to the facility, and I made some incredibly valuable contacts and references. I memorized their maps and approach plates, and I'm pretty certain I could check out there in no time flat. I was the first VSW this facility had ever had, so there wasn't really an established set of tasks for me to do. I had to be really self-directed, and worked hard to kind of ingratiate myself in operations. I have a background in writing, so I wrote an actual LOA regarding emergency tower evacuations, and the edited the SOP about emergency procedures. I was allowed to participate in preliminary talks about re-engineering a tangle of taxiways and the remodel of a runway. I also did some admin-type things- made posters, shredded more documents than you could even imagine, and compiled training binders for the training specialist. When nobody had anything for me to do, I did a lot of self-study in the 7110. I looked at the whole thing as a long interview, an opportunity to show hard work and initiative and make impressions and shake hands.

    I was accepted in the Feb bid, but was given the enroute option, so my experience won't directly correlate, but I'm sure I'll draw on the experience of operating in an ATC environment and going through the training motions. When I left my assignment, though, all management and specialists and controllers told me to "hurry up and get back there," so I'm sure that if at any time I want to get back to the terminal side, I'd have an easier time ERRing in to that (very desirable) location than the average applicant. Not to mention, being able to have high-level management contacts on my reference sheet... I'd encourage anybody who's even considering it to go for it! I had the opportunity on my radar (hyuk hyuk) from my first day in CTI school, so building good rapport with my instructors was a big priority for me, as they're the ones that recommended candidates in my program. I'm not fully in the career yet (waiting for my full TOL, have returned OF306 forms), but can already tell that so much of this job is building relationships. If you're a bridge-burner, do not apply.

    Glad to hear that you had a great experience, too! Best of luck in the career. This is a totally nerve-wracking time, but so exciting.

    Great to hear there are others out there with similar experiences! This has been a program at my school in coordination with a level 12 tower, the nearby tracon, and the local VFR tower for some years now, and they normally get 3-5 interns a semester, but following the February hiring, our CTI program in particular took a big hit with our degree plan being nearly identical to several other degrees in the department, many left the program for better opportunity elsewhere, leaving me as the only volunteer applicant this semester. It's unfortunate, because there is so much value in the program! I've gotten similar contacts from the higher ups at the facilities, as well as getting to tour and monitor at half a dozen of the towers throughout the state. It's been a HUGE advantage getting to see all levels of the system, from level 5 towers through tracon and the center, as well as the management side of things with the numerous support specialists positions. Really helped me decide that this was defiantly the career path I wanted to take! If you have the opportunity, DO IT, there is so much to gain from the program!

    I'll be applying on the next hiring bid. Out of curiosity, Do you think the internship helped at all in terms of getting noticed in that process??

  5. #5
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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    "I'll be applying on the next hiring bid. Out of curiosity, Do you think the internship helped at all in terms of getting noticed in that process??"

    Just being realistic, but a lot of current DoD and military controllers didn't pass the BQ. The internship might have helped with the old hiring system, but it means jack now (in terms of getting hired). Newtworking won't do anything for you now either to get hired, but it may come in handy later on if you're looking to transfer.

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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    I was a student intern this past summer at a level 12 up-down. My experience wasn't quite as extravagant as jakeflies, but I did get a great experience being able to monitor with the controllers and work the Adacel tower simulator alongside the Raytheon RPOs. From the sim, I had learned the ground layouts of 5 different airports. As well from the dark room, I was able to learn the flows, airspace, frequencies, SIDs, and STARs for all of the airports within the area. Was definitely a great experience. Wouldn't trade anything for the time I spent there and the connections I made.

    In terms of its value, it's difficult to say whether it will make that much of an impact. Under the old hiring where everyone was a CTI grad, we were more or less on an even playing field. I would think that an understanding of the operations behind the scenes would help anyone.

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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    Quote Originally Posted by mplover View Post
    I would think that an understanding of the operations behind the scenes would help anyone.
    Unfortunately it doesn't unless they make drastic changes to the hiring process. We'll see what happens on the next go around. I do agree with you, though. It's just that the reality is different.

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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    How did you find out about any opportunities? My university hasn't ever said anything about this. Did your schools let you know or did you ask the FAA HR reps?

  9. #9
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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    Thanks guys! Stingchik4, are your IRL initials PB?? This whole anonymous thing on StuckMic is a little unnerving, haha. I get the sense that you know my every day alter ego, though?

    zackletctic, I do not think that the internship helped with hiring. With the FAA system moving toward the use of metadata, the way that many corporations recruit talent now, little things that show your dedication like internships are essentially irrelevant to that part of the process. I do think that it will be useful in my actual career, though, so still completely worth the time- especially for people with their eye on the long game. My advice for hiring is to do ALL of the reading available to you on the internet. Read the entire Barrier Analysis. Read both academic studies regarding the creation of the BQ. Read the assessment of the last hiring bid by the company who designed the process. All of these things are available via a quick googling. I swear to you that I passed the BQ because of my understanding of what it was trying to find. All of my answers were true, of course, but inevitably, multiple answers out of the options provided were true for me. Knowing that consistency between answers was the most important factor helped to inform my decision between two answers for many of the questions. All of this information is available to everyone, but it only helps the people who go find it!

    In terms of making your resume stand out, that comes from metadata, too. Think of it as a giant keyword search. It's mostly robots that comb your application now. When the bid comes out, isolate the most oft-repeated terms in the wording of the bid itself. (You can visually scan, or copy and paste and use the MS Word function) When you're filling out your application, use these keywords to describe your work experience and yourself as often as possible. If your application is dense with the terms that the FAA has decided describe it's ideal applicants, you will float to the top of the pile.

    So much of this process makes the applicant feel like it's all out of our hands, because the HR beast is big and lumbering and not terribly responsive, but I'm of the opinion that winners, win. There's a measure of luck, sure, but there's also taking initiative, and being willing to go above and beyond. Those two things can never hurt!!

    jtreadway, your university might not have an established program. You do need their permission, but you can create the opportunity for yourself. My school had an established relationship with the ARTCC close to us, but no one had ever done the tower until me. The FAA no longer has "interns," as an internship with the FAA is a paid position, and the budget has not allowed this expense for some time. The program is called the Volunteer Student Work Program, and can be completed in exchange for college credit. If there is an ATC facility in your area that you're interested in, go in for a tour, talk to the training manager and the Air Traffic Manager, be impressive as shit, and ask for what you want. Then talk to your CTI coordinator, and see what can be done. I bet you'll make it happen.

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    Re: FAA Student Volunteers?

    Thanks guys! Stingchik4, are your IRL initials PB?? This whole anonymous thing on StuckMic is a little unnerving, haha. I get the sense that you know my every day alter ego, though?

    zackletctic, I do not think that the internship helped with hiring. With the FAA system moving toward the use of metadata, the way that many corporations recruit talent now, little things that show your dedication like internships are essentially irrelevant to that part of the process. I do think that it will be useful in my actual career, though, so still completely worth the time- especially for people with their eye on the long game. My advice for hiring is to do ALL of the reading available to you on the internet. Read the entire Barrier Analysis. Read both academic studies regarding the creation of the BQ. Read the assessment of the last hiring bid by the company who designed the process. All of these things are available via a quick googling. I swear to you that I passed the BQ because of my understanding of what it was trying to find. All of my answers were true, of course, but inevitably, multiple answers out of the options provided were true for me. Knowing that consistency between answers was the most important factor helped to inform my decision between two answers for many of the questions. All of this information is available to everyone, but it only helps the people who go find it!

    In terms of making your resume stand out, that comes from metadata, too. Think of it as a giant keyword search. It's mostly robots that comb your application now. When the bid comes out, isolate the most oft-repeated terms in the wording of the bid itself. (You can visually scan, or copy and paste and use the MS Word function) When you're filling out your application, use these keywords to describe your work experience and yourself as often as possible. If your application is dense with the terms that the FAA has decided describe it's ideal applicants, you will float to the top of the pile.

    So much of this process makes the applicant feel like it's all out of our hands, because the HR beast is big and lumbering and not terribly responsive, but I'm of the opinion that winners, win. There's a measure of luck, sure, but there's also taking initiative, and being willing to go above and beyond. Those two things can never hurt!!

    jtreadway, your university might not have an established program. You do need their permission, but you can create the opportunity for yourself. My school had an established relationship with the ARTCC close to us, but no one had ever done the tower until me. The FAA no longer has "interns," as an internship with the FAA is a paid position, and the budget has not allowed this expense for some time. The program is called the Volunteer Student Work Program, and can be completed in exchange for college credit. If there is an ATC facility in your area that you're interested in, go in for a tour, talk to the training manager and the Air Traffic Manager, be impressive as shit, and ask for what you want. Then talk to your CTI coordinator, and see what can be done. I bet you'll make it happen.

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