A Day in the Life... of a Southwest Airlines Intern!

Daily inspiration and advice for the ambitious savvy young professional
A Day in the Life... of a Southwest Airlines Intern! blog image

A Day in the Life... of a Southwest Airlines Intern!

All of our Campus Ambassadors have such cool internships this summer and we wanted to know what their typical day looked like. What projects do they get to work on? What fun things happen in the office? Do they hang out with the other interns? Today we're featuring a day in the life of Sarah Dougherty, our Campus Ambassador from The University of Alabama, who is interning at Southwest Airlines!

While my days aren’t all the same, this is the gist of what goes on over at the Southwest Airlines Corporate Headquarters! I’m interning with the Corporate Communication team, where I help develop Communication Strategy and provide content for various internal clients. It’s been a great summer so far!

5:45am Alarm goes off, I resist the urge to hit Snooze and the day has begun! I get ready, eat breakfast (usually a yogurt with fruit,) and make my lunch.

6:45am Out the door. I sometimes stop for coffee in the neighborhood before I hit the toll road or head toward the train station. (I’m living in the suburbs of Dallas, so I alternate driving and taking the train because #traffic.) As soon as I get in the car or on the train, I turn on my newest commute pastime: podcasts. I’ve been really into Huffington Post’s “Here to Make Friends,” a fun show called “Gilmore Guys,” and a more Tech show my intern friend recommended called “Reply All.”

7:45 – 8am Arrive at the office and walk through our lobby where specialty model Southwest airplanes hang from the ceiling (it never gets old,) and either head to the cafe for a coffee or go right to my desk.

8 - 8:15am Settle into the Communication Intern “Pod,” a huge open workspace that serves as home to 5 department interns. We all chat about our nights and things trending before getting down to business.

8:15am – 8:45am Review my to-do list from the day before, review what needs to be done, reviewed or followed-up on, and open my email to see if anything new or urgent has come in. I also like to map out time chunks around meetings so I can visualize the best opportunities to work on more time-consuming projects.

8:45am – 9:15am Finish up any email/quick morning to-dos, return calls, and tidy up my desk. By this point I have notes and post-its scattered around from the follow-ups.

9:15am – 9:30am Check in with my manager who’s just gotten in. Southwest is really nice about offering flexible schedules (when job duties allow)—if you live far away and want to schedule around rush hour, you can; if you aren’t an early-morning person, you don’t have to be! As long as you’re consistent and productive, it all works out. Once we’re both in the office, my manager will review any questions I have from the day before and we’ll chat about any specific meetings or urgent client requests.

9:30 – 10:30am Dive into a bigger project that has the earliest of my upcoming deadlines. Currently, this project is a case study for one of my advisers on the Corporate Communication team. It involves working with reports and developing engaging content for our internal audience.

10:30am – 11am Meeting time! I like to schedule a check-in or get-to-know-you meeting to help break up the morning. Sometimes I’ll meet with my managers to go over the status on different assignments and projects; other times I’ll meet people from other areas of the department and pick their brain about what they do, how they got started, any tips they may have. It’s a great way to learn more about the company and network at the same time!

11am – 12pm Work on one of my ongoing responsibilities. I sort through our Speakers Bureau requests and compile them all into an excel sheet for my manager, who checks our executives’ and speakers’ schedules to see which events we can and can’t attend. I then send the responses as a follow-up.

12pm – 1pm Lunch! If the weather is nice, a bunch of interns and I will meet on the rooftop deck. It’s nice and sunny with a great view of the planes landing and taking off at the airport next door. It’s fun to hear about what everyone’s been up to and what the travel plans are for the weekend. Everyone at Southwest loves traveling and learning new things, and our intern class has people from all over the world; our conversations at lunch are always fun and interesting (even if the Texas heat forces us back inside!)

1pm – 2pm Back to work— The majority of my meetings are in the afternoon, so I like to come back from lunch and finish prepping, whether that’s printing Comm Plans off or going over some final edits with one of my managers. I’ll also check our employee blog to read the day’s features.

2pm – 3pm Another wave of meetings. The Corporate Communication team has internal clients, so these meetings are really important for touching base with departments on upcoming content, messaging, and/or any changes to expect in the near future to adapt the plans in place.

3pm – 3:30pm Post-meeting organization. I like to type my meeting notes into Microsoft OneNote so that it’s legible, organized, and all action items are on my radar. While I’m in the process of organizing, I’ll also go through and finish color-coordinating emails and To-Dos sitting in my Outlook manager and on Wunderlist (I’m obsessed). This is the hardest part of the afternoon for me to be productive, so I like this “me” time to stay on track! {This is also the time of day where I tend to splurge on a Coke. This is made a little more exciting thanks to the Share A Coke bottles! They’re so fun.}

3:30pm – 4pm Time to work on short-term projects, which usually include editing articles and blogs, or calling people to coordinate an interview for upcoming features or projects. I love writing and editing, which makes this a fun part of the day, and something with instant results.

4pm – 4:40pm Continue making progress on the day’s projects, write out the next day’s to-dos, update my timesheet and organize my desk.

4:40pm – 5pm Check in with my manager about the day, catch up with the Corporate team, and get ready to head out.

5pm on Mondays: Roof Party! I meet up with other interns and we go up to the roof deck for the Headquarters weekly mixer. Different departments team up and there’s always a theme. It’s a really fun way to meet people and enjoy the Culture that we cherish at Southwest.

5pm - 6pm on Normal Days Head to Highland Park for a Sprinkles Cupcake or catch dinner at the East Hampton Sandwich Company with interns or friends in town, or get my commute started. (Some days I’m ready for a Spotify playlist and getting home!)

6pm – 7pm Catch up with my roommates, make dinner if needed, and settle into my online Econ course. It’s hard after a day at work to sit down and read these chapters, but I know it’ll pay off when my fall courseload feels a little lighter.

7pm – 7:30pm Go onto the Southwest Employee site to scope out where I want to use my flying perks for this weekend—there are so many choices! Our flying privileges are just that— a privilege— so sometimes I map out unconventional routes that ensure I’ll be able to get back to Dallas in time for work Monday morning.

7:30pm - 10pm Watch The Bachelorette/Netflix, unwind, call family & friends back home, and catch up on Social Media. This is my free time to lounge.

10:30pm (at the latest) Bedtime! It’s crazy how exhausted I am every night—I can barely keep my eyes open. Plus, every Intern Queen girl needs her beauty sleep. :)

My days at Southwest are exciting—there’s always a new project, exciting task, and meeting to prepare for. The People I work with are awesome; we all have different personalities and talents that complement each other so well! It’s been a whirlwind so far, and I can’t wait to see what else I get to learn on this “flight of a lifetime!”

To learn about internship opportunities at Southwest Airlines apply HERE.