When we first start a new journey, there are many daunting unknowns that are presented to us. Some of the questions that occurred to me at the beginning of my own journey were about training footprints, what schools to attend, and what career paths to take. Having someone, a mentor, to help navigate through these questions can be very beneficial.
In aviation, a mentor can be someone who is an instructor, a current or former airline pilot, or someone who can get you connected with others in the industry. When selecting a mentor, it is important to find someone willing to listening, with experience with your type of situation and who is willing to give unbiased information.
As I started training, I was able to find a mentor with all of those qualities. He was the head flight instructor at my flight school and had years of experience within the airline industry. When I first mentioned to him that I wanted to become an airline pilot, he presented the potential paths I could take. When questions came up about particular choices, such as universities and jobs, he would direct me to someone who could better guide me in those decisions. As time went on, my mentor became my confidant. If I had a tough day, questions about work/life balance, or just wanted to celebrate a training event, I could always rely on him to talk about whatever was on my mind.
No matter in what phase of your career you find yourself, my encouragement to you is to find a mentor. Whether you are just starting out in aviation or have been in aviation for many years, having a mentor will always be beneficial. Plus, you can be mentored and be a mentor at the same time. There will always be those ahead of you who can help you as well as those coming up behind you who can benefit from your experiences.
If you are in search of a mentor, or want to become a mentor yourself, I invite you to check out The Professional Pilots of Tomorrow (www.theppot.org). PPOT includes over 1000 members with 250 volunteer pilot-mentors who come from a wide array of schools, carriers, and operational backgrounds. I joined this organization as a mentor almost two years ago, and from what I have experienced, all of the pilot-mentors are highly motivated to help others on their career path within aviation. Once you become a member, you are assigned a mentor who will contact you on a monthly basis. As individual mentors and as an organization, our goal is to provide unbiased information to our colleagues. If a question arises about a particular topic for which we don’t have the answer, we will use available resources to point in the right direction. Personally, within the organization, I have seen pilots move from student pilots into corporate and airline positions. Generally, as these pilots continue in their careers, they develop a desire to help others following behind.
No matter where you are in your career, get connected with PPOT! A mentorship not only helps you navigate and grow in those tough career situations but will also develop your networking skills. As mentors, we hope to engage those who are looking to follow our paths and help in their development.
As you pursue your future as a professional pilot, having a mentor alongside you and being a mentor to another will contribute to making for a much more fulfilling journey.