Based on the sheer competitiveness of the industry, it may hard to believe, but junior Colin Solito has secured two dream internships with major U.S. airlines for this year.
“I consider planes and the airport to be my third home, after Kansas City and Creighton,” says Solito of his intense interest in the aviation industry. His father worked in airport operations, so the family traveled extensively on weekends. “Although I originally wanted to be a pilot, I decided that corporate life would be better for me personally,” says Solito. “Business within an airline was even more appropriate.”
Always intrigued by the stock market, finance was a natural major for Solito, and he already has three internships under his belt. This past summer, he worked as a business performance and insights intern at Zurich. In 2016, he was with Farmers as a claims representative intern, and the previous summer he interned at Waddell and Reed in retirement operations.
“There are endless opportunities for finance majors because there are endless needs for people with finance experience,” Solito says, sharing what he has discovered through his varied work experience.
He can now add working for Southwest and American Airlines to his CV.
How did he secure two prestigious internships, you might ask? Solito began by forging initial connections with industry professionals. He started by emailing or calling every person on the alumni list the Career Center provided who works for airlines, as well as messaging “a ton of people” through LinkedIn. Several of these connections were with a handful of American Airline executives, one of which was 2016 Creighton Business Symposium keynote speaker Tom Weir, treasurer and vice president of American Airlines.
Weir was honest with Solito. Airlines are highly responsive to current economic climates; when the economy falters, so do airlines. It is also very difficult to gain access to the industry as it is limited to a few major airlines that dominate the market and then a handful of smaller airlines.
After cultivating a relationship with Weir, Solito felt comfortable reaching out to him in the beginning of this academic year when he was applying for an internship position with American Airlines. Weir turned Solito’s resume over to human resources, solidifying an interview. Two successful phone interviews later, Solito’s hard work paid off in the middle of midterm exams – American Airlines offered him a coveted financial analyst internship for the summer of 2018.
“I am very excited to take what I have learned throughout my various business and finance classes and apply that knowledge to finance for the world’s largest airline,” says Solito. “Nothing is more rewarding than being tasked with something in an internship that you already learned.”
Solito will not have to wait until May, however. After completing a second round of interviews in early November, he just accepted a full-time finance-revenue accounting internship with Southwest Airlines. A Southwest internship is difficult to land; in 2016, the airline only hired 368 interns out of 38,000-plus applicants. Solito, who is on target to graduate a semester early, will take the spring semester off to temporarily relocate to Dallas, where Southwest is headquartered.
“I decided to accept this position because it fits in great with my career goals of working for a major airline,” says Solito. “Since it will not cause me to graduate later, I consider it a win-win.”
Solito attributes his successful applications to a few factors. Well-placed graduates within the Creighton alumni network got him through the proverbial front door. Once he secured interviews, though, his past internship experiences, extensive research and knowledge of the industry set him apart from the competition.
When Solito was looking at universities as a high school senior, he was “blown away” by the resources Creighton students had at their disposal to be successful. He was told that if he came to Creighton, he would “do great things as a nature of the environment.” He hasn’t been disappointed.
“I don’t know many other business schools that put emphasis on professional development and internships as much as Creighton does,” says Solito.