At Delta Air Lines, my main responsibilities included analyzing the current flight schedule, sending out reports, and making changes to the final schedule that ultimately would be sold. I would also be tasked with completing ad hoc needs of my team and automating/streamlining existing processes for increased productivity. My responsibilities on the Out-For-Sale (OFS) team would be primarily focused on the production of “sellable” flight schedules week-over-week.
An extreme benefit of working for Delta Air Lines was that they gave their employees standby flight benefits. Put simply, what this means is if there was an empty seat on the plane, then an employee had the ability to fill it for practically free. This allowed me to travel all over the world for my internship. I would work a typical 5-day work week, and then I would use the weekend to travel to a new place. Throughout my internship, I traveled over 80,000 miles, to 4 continents, and to 8 countries. This was a life changing experience as I got to see completely different cultures, peoples, and geographies.
Some eye-opening experiences I had while traveling included seeing the vast cultural differences of Tokyo, the historical richness of Paris, or the awe-inspiring Andes in Santiago. Growing up, I never imagined myself traveling to these places until I was much older. I thought that my knowledge of these cultures and peoples would be limited to what I could research in the United States. Never had I imagined being able to have these experiences so young. I found myself struggling to override my own cultural norm of walking on the right in Tokyo, where everyone walks on the left and passes on the right. Or having to play a game of charades every time I went to a country where English was not a prevalent language. Simple things like ordering food were now difficult tasks involving a lot of gestures, pointing, and butchery of their native language. Not only was this a humbling experience, but also incredibly enlightening.
One of the best parts of traveling was being able to experience all the different kinds of food that each culture had to offer. These countries had an authenticity that could simply not be replicated in the United States. The vast expanse of flavors, and while this may sound like I’m being over-dramatic, was an emotional experience. My first taste of authentic ramen at Golden Gai in Tokyo easily ranks as one of the best things I have ever eaten. A dish as simple (or not) as ramen possessing so much flavor, for the price of a typical McDonald’s meal, was something I was not accustomed to. Or when I had my first steak in Santiago, Chile where the tenderness and flavor were enough to bring US steak chains to their knees. While food at first glance may appear to not reveal much about a culture, this could not be farther from the truth. The meticulous preparation of dishes like sashimi by expert chefs in Japan, or the artistic and industrious nature of food in Paris, shows the attitudes and cultural values of the native people. I found myself consuming food like how I consume art, admiring the expertise and creativity that went into it.
While I could talk about my travel adventures almost indefinitely, it would disingenuous of me to not mention the fantastic people I worked with this fall. My team at Delta were some of the most helpful and knowledgeable people I’ve ever worked with. It is rare to go into an industry where the employees are so passionate about what they do. It was a pipe dream of mine to be surrounded by so many other aviation fanatics and to learn even more about a field that I am so passionate about. Not only were they always helping and teaching me at work, but they also cared about me a friend. For instance, when I got stuck in Chile, my coworker saw I didn’t make it on the flight and took the time to find a way to reroute me back to the United States. It was this level of kindness that draws me back to wanting to work at Delta. And while I experienced the pros and cons of corporate culture, the people are definitely the distinguishing factor between companies.
To say that my time at Delta was life changing would be an understatement. I learned not only about how modern companies function, but also about the cultures and peoples of the world. I found that despite how different the modern media wants to portray people of different countries from the US, that we all share a common humanity. Almost everyone I met was willing to lend a helping hand to a foreigner and share their culture and experiences. Delta was not only a great way to get my foot into the professional world, but it also allowed me to see the world in a way few get to experience.