Interning in a World of Social Distancing by Katy Williams, AMC-3 Intern
Vol.6 Issue 6

I started my junior year of college with a new major (kind of late to change my path, right?). I was very unsure about the major I chose but knew this would open up more doors for me in the long run than what I was doing before. However, I had no idea just how many life-altering opportunities this would bring, nor did I anticipate how much the world would change during this experience.

I wrote a blog in one of my first classes that caught a lot of attention. I was offered multiple internships after this. I reached out to Laura Shepherd-Madsen, Communications Program Specialist (AMC-3) and took a tour of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC) while I was home from school (during Winter Break). I discussed some of my options with her and she said that the Aeronautical Center would be a great place to intern and obtain experience.

I wasn’t really sure what the Federal Aviation Administration was at the time other than the things that I heard her talk about that day (which was a pretty large load of information). I spoke with her and Kim Sheppard, Chief of Staff for the Aeronautical Center, later that afternoon and Kim mentioned the feasibility of an internship. The reality of actually getting an internship made me more passionate and driven towards my new chosen major of Strategic Communications.

In March, right as all of the COVID-19 madness was beginning, it was doubtful that the internship would come through. This was disheartening, as I had been researching the FAA for a few months and was looking forward to working at the MMAC for my internship. Then out of the blue, I received an email stating that an internship was indeed possible, and they would like me to report to work virtually! I quickly met with my advisor at Oklahoma State University and got the ball rolling. After all of the details were in place, I filled out the necessary paperwork and then waited patiently to learn of a start date.

Soon, I was logging into Zoom and on-boarding with the FAA through Human Resources department. The following day I was issued a computer and badge, and was ready to get to work. As an intern, I didn’t think it would matter if I was physically present or not. This was before I met the team that I would be working with, and before I realized how genuinely supportive they all are. It all makes sense now. This team is unlike any other work place. They truly want everyone around them to succeed in what they are doing, and they are very supportive and willing to help in achieving success.

At the onset of the internship, it was odd that all of my training and meetings were conducted through Zoom. It wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated for my summer internship, but I also didn’t know anything different. In this new COVID-19 world, I’ve learned to do my job virtually. During this internship I am gaining experience and memories that I will never forget. I was able to participate in communications work and activities relating to the aerospace industry.

Intern, Katy Williams stands in front of a green screen, assisting Jeff Hoopingarner, Videographer in preparing placement for actors who would be filmed later.

I knew as I was going into the internship that the FAA was a Federal Government Agency. What I didn’t know was the whole new world of acronyms I would have to learn quickly to even be able to communicate effectively with my co-workers. I am also surprised at the amount of hands-on experience I am acquiring. My initial expectation was to spend most of my time observing and learning the ropes, but to my surprise, I was assigned tasks from the beginning. I was included in meetings where my input mattered, and was often times applied.

While interning with the Quality Systems and Business Resources Staff (AMC-3), I have worked on a multitude of different projects (alongside some pretty incredible people). This team has trusted me with a lot of important tasks that have helped me to learn a lot, and to improve my performance as an employee.

I was able to assist with the Sooner Flight Academy’s Virtual ACE Camp, and the planning of the FAA’s role in it. I got to represent the Aeronautical Center in the weekly Office of Communication (AOC) telecon updates. That was more than I expected to be doing. On top of that, I got to: write articles for MONRONeYnews, help with ideas for the 75th Anniversary event for the Center, create surveys, attend the production of a STEM-related video, and a handful of other things that helped me to gain valuable knowledge and experience.

Reinforcing the policy of face coverings, (L) Intern, Katy Williams with Laura Shepherd-Madsen (R)

I took the most pride in assisting with the Independence Day broadcast announcement that was sent to all Aeronautical Center employees. Many tasks were handed to me in-between all of these projects – which caused me to feel a great deal of pride, knowing that I was entrusted with their development. Though these tasks might seem insignificant to people who have huge workloads, it meant a lot to me to be able to gain hands-on, real-life experience in my eight weeks on the Center. That’s a lot for a "little intern!"

I am beyond thankful for this incredible opportunity to work with one of the best agencies in the country. I will continue to work for the FAA intermittently until I graduate in May of 2021. I could not have asked for a better group of people to gain experience from. I want to thank the AMC-3 team for pushing, helping, supporting and teaching me so much in such a short period of time.

I can confidently say that this internship has helped me to improve as an employee and as a person. This is an excellent organization and I wish the best for everyone at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center.

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