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EAA Internship Opportunities Grow as AirVenture Expands

By Barbara A. Schmitz

July 23, 2017 - You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.

EAA understands the conundrum many college students face and has long offered internships to students in their fields of study. But those opportunities have increased as AirVenture has grown in size and stature, according to EAA Director of Communications Dick Knapinski.

“Our department has offered internships for close to 20 years, but in the last five years other departments have started to offer internships, too,” Knapinski said. EAA now offers about 20 internships annually in areas such as publications, marketing, human resources, business development, donor relations, graphic design, accounting, and Young Eagles.

“Interns provide us with more arms and legs, which is what we need as we prepare for AirVenture each year,” Knapinski said. But interns are more than just bodies; they have the background and skills needed to put on an event like this, he said.

Jack Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board, said interns are a good addition to EAA’s workplace for several reasons. “We have a need for seasonal help, and we need people with good, fresh skills,” he said. “The students educate us and we educate them about the working world. It really is a great sharing of ideas and activities.”

Just as importantly, EAA internships give students a look into the world of aviation. “We have introduced students to aviation and they later become immersed in aviation as a result of their internship,” Pelton said.

But EAA isn’t the only one benefiting from its internship program.

Ti Windisch, who will graduate in December 2017 with a journalism major from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, is a publications intern. He primarily writes for AirVenture Today and e-Hotline, and copy edits EAA’s digital and print publications.

Ti said he’s already gained experience that he couldn’t gain as managing editor of the UW-Oshkosh school newspaper. “You learn so much working as an intern for EAA and you make so many connections,” Windisch said. “But I’ve also learned so much about aviation and have a newfound respect for it.”

Kelsey Kaiser is a photography intern who updates EAA’s online database system so photos can be easily located, creates photo assignments in EAA’s tracking system, shoots photos, and more. She will graduate from UW-Oshkosh with majors in radio-TV-film and marketing in December 2017.

For the third summer, Ella Pelot is a business development intern for EAA, working with the organization’s 850-plus exhibitors to build relationships, answer questions, and ensure a positive experience during AirVenture. She will graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in December with a marketing major and PR minor.

Pelot said she grew up coming to the air show and fly-in, but now she understands what it takes to put on an event like this. “I’ve learned that not everything is going to go as planned, and when things go wrong, you just need to keep a smile on your face, find the best possible solution, and go with it. This internship has really opened my eyes to the many careers that are out there. Plus, I’ve been able to network with so many people and companies.”

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