Earlier this week, I attended the Tennessee Mid-South Aviation Conference in Nashville, TN. It’s one of the biggest conferences I have been to since joining the magazine. There was a great group of people in attendance, and I learned a lot from the presentations.
I bumped in to my former boss Gary at the conference. Recently retired, he was there to obtain the required 8 hours training to keep his IA current (he owns and maintains his own aircraft). Gary has had a successful career in aircraft maintenance, and I respect the heck out of him. I asked him, "What advice would you give to someone starting out as an aircraft mechanic?" He thought for a second and said, "Never stop learning." He said the most successful maintenance professionals are those who never become complacent and always strive to learn every chance they get -- whether from formal training, OJT, or just learning from co-workers.
Gary also added, "Don't be afraid to take on additional responsibilities!" The mechanics that excel are the ones who take on new tasks and responsibilities. It may be presenting a technical seminar or getting involved in a new safety initiative for example. Whatever it might be, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. By taking steps outside your comfort zone, you realize it can be done, and your comfort zone gets bigger little by little.
Gary shared a story to illustrate different career paths. Two guys started working as mechanics at the same time. Quite a few years later, both of them were ready to retire from the company, one as a vice president of quality, the other as a mechanic on the shop floor. The mechanic on the shop floor asked his buddy, "How is it that you were so successful in your career? We both have the same amount of time with the company, and I am just as smart and qualified as you. Why have I been stuck in the hangar while you were on the fast track up the career ladder?" His friend replied "The only difference is that over the years, you have worked for the paycheck. I have worked for the company."
What are your thoughts on career success? What tip would you offer someone starting out in our field?
Thanks for reading!