Every summer, hundreds of Calvin students scatter across the U.S. and around the world, researching, interning and exploring. This summer, some of these students are keeping us informed about their adventures. Next up: senior Alicia Davids of Orland Park, Ill., a strategic communications and Spanish double major at Calvin College. This summer, Alicia is interning with Southwest Airlines.

Where are you?

I am at Southwest Airlines Headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

Why are you there?

I am the Customer Support and Services Communication intern and am here to gain experience in internal communication.

What’s your typical day like?

I arrive to headquarters at 7:30 and plan out my work for the day. I then attend a 30-minute morning operations meeting where Southwest leaders review the previous day’s performance and prepare for the current day's challenges. This meeting includes a weather forecast from the meteorologists and a report from all of Southwest’s mega stations across the country. These meetings have taught me more than I thought I could ever learn about the airline industry! I spend the rest of the morning working on my writing projects. During the afternoon, I work on editing videos, designing digital signs or finishing up my tasks from the morning. I try to support my team however I can and help them with projects as needed. I finish work at 4:30 and enjoy trying new spots around Dallas after work with other interns. On the weekends, I take advantage of our flight privileges and fly around the country to cities Southwest serves!

What (technically) are you doing?

I am the Customer Support & Services communication intern. My team supports Southwest’s seven call centers across the country. We ensure that the 3,500 phone representatives receive the information they need to provide top-notch customer service. My team is responsible for all of the department’s communication, which includes everything from publishing daily news items on the department’s intranet to helping the centers feel connected with the rest of the company. I write feature articles about employees and leaders for the department’s quarterly magazine and am involved in editing this publication as well. I also explore the use of multiple communication channels to best engage employees. Lastly, I support the development of the department’s new policy and procedure knowledge system.

What in layperson’s terms are you doing?

I do a lot of writing and help Southwest’s call centers communicate effectively.

How has Calvin prepared you for this?

My communication courses have taught me the written and verbal communication skills necessary for this position. My oral rhetoric courses have given me the confidence to present to leaders in my department and the writing skills I’ve gained are crucial to a majority of my assignments. It is great to see how what I’ve learned in class directly applies to the work I'm doing this summer. The Career Development Office has also been great in helping me perfect my resume' and polish my interview skills so that I could land the internship in the first place.

What has surprised you so far?

I never knew that working for a company as successful as Southwest Airlines could be so much fun! Southwest has a unique corporate culture and the company works hard to create a fun work environment. The company hosts a party every Monday night for employees and there is an entire department dedicated to maintaining Southwest’s culture. I have loved experiencing this work environment and was happy to learn that being successful doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun.

How do you see this shaping your future?

This internship has further deepened my interest in communication and I’m confident that I would like to pursue a career in this field after I graduate. I’ll also incorporate Southwest’s core values of embodying a warrior spirit, a servant’s heart and a fun-loving attitude into my personal and professional life. I’ve seen how much these three values can positively impact an organization and I’ll aim to work hard, serve others, and have fun wherever I find myself!

Best thing you’ve eaten?

I tried jambalaya for the first time in New Orleans and loved it!

Best picture you’ve taken?

It’s tied between a photo I took of the Boston skyline and one I took of the Seattle skyline. Both cities look beautiful from ferries!

What’s gone wrong?

As an intern, I have flight privileges for the summer but fly as a standby passenger. Friday afternoons at Dallas Love Field Airport are insane, as almost all 84 interns and lots of full-time Southwest employees are trying to catch a flight for the weekend at the same time. Summer is a busy travel season and I’ve had to wait on the standby list for several hours, sleep in the airport, and even change my destination for the weekend. But it’s all part of the experience! Traveling with other interns is always an adventure and even if plans change, we end up having a good time. 

Met anybody memorable?

I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the executives at Southwest and learn about their careers. I’ve also made some great friends with the other interns. I’ll remember our hectic travel adventures for a long time!

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