Hearing about how everyone spent the summer is one of my favorite parts of starting classes in the fall. Some people traveled, some people worked in a new city, others worked in a boutique setting or in their hometown, and some had an interesting combination of experiences. I love having their perspectives of work and life as we settle back into campus life.
I was fortunate enough to be one of 128 interns in Southwest Airlines’ Campus Reach College Internship Program, working with the Corporate Communication team in the Communication & Outreach department. I can’t say enough good things about my experience—the hands-on experience, the valuable projects, and the office atmosphere were all things that will be hard to beat as I begin the search (already) for next summer’s adventure. While I have several takeaways from things I learned relating to internal and corporate communication, I think my biggest takeaway was the importance of a great company culture.
Southwest is known for being different from other airlines. Southwest is a low-cost airline dedicated to “the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit,” and they practice what they preach, inside and out. The focus on a close company culture goes above and beyond any and all expectations for a stereotypical “corporate” environment—there is even an entire Culture department dedicated to employee engagement and recognition.
I had a whirlwind start to my internship, having just returned from a semester abroad and a few quick days at home in Pennsylvania before I was flown to Dallas for the summer. On paper that seems overwhelming, but in reality, it was an exciting transition thanks to the care of the Campus Reach & Corporate Communication teams at Southwest. I knew from the moment I was greeted by my fantastic manager (who is now my mentor and friend) that something was different about this company.
From monthly departmental breakfasts where announcements were shared (my favorites including an intern’s engagement and another’s full-time offer from Southwest Airlines), to “Random Acts of Culture,” everyone knew each other on both a work and personal level. This brought the different teams together to feel like a family. As an ENFJ on the Myers-Briggs spectrum, I thrive on engagement and working with people and loved the teamwork and open nature of the office environment. The cherry on top was that everyone I encountered—from Customer Service Agents to Supply Chain specialists and beyond—treated their position as more than just a “job.” They were all passionate about what they were doing and who they were working with, something that isn’t always the popular perspective.
Yes, the Monday night deck parties, Marketing vs. Communication Field Day event, flying perks, and occasional breakfast burritos & baked goods were pretty nice perks—but the secret sauce lay in meaningful work and genuine employee hospitality. Whether I end up returning to Dallas or finding a position closer to home, I know that along with the job description, the company culture will be just as important when considering where I apply and see myself. If you love your company and the people around you, you’ll never “work” a day in your life. Thanks, Southwest Airlines, for embracing me with such open arms and clearing me for takeoff!
-by Sarah Dougherty, PRSSA Executive Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.