October 2, 2009

In Process...

The FAA hiring process is an ever-changing, confusing process whose only constant is that it requires patience on behalf of the individual getting hired.

Patience is one thing, uncertainty is another. How long do you need to remain patient before you start wondering if they forgot who you are? A "quick" phone call to Oklahoma usually nets you a "we're working on it, be patient". Ok then. What to do with some free time before you get the call to report to training?

I worked some menial retail/temp/food service jobs until finally convincing Domino's Pizza to take me back as an assistant manager (I delivered pizza for 3 years in college). "When are you going to leave us to be a controller?" "I don't know. A year? Two? Six months if I'm lucky!?" I'd graduated from a CTI college (UND) over a year before and was told a year or so. Then the FAA stopped hiring for a while.

For some reason, I got the job(!) at a store about a half hour from my parents house (2 hours in rush hour, oh well) and have since amassed enough experience to permanently over qualify myself for any FAA management position. Eight months later I got the best phone call I've ever gotten and had a training date in Oklahoma City.

I could go on and on about how a Domino's pizza store runs surprisingly similar to an Area in an ARTCC (we had different positions that were combined when slow and individualized when busy, we talked on the phone alot, we had a map of our area to learn, and there was a sense of urgency making each driver take the best and most efficient delivery route as possible), or tell great stories about my felonious customers who kept getting themselves arrested by writing bad checks or assaulting my drivers. But that time is gone. For me, at least.

I knew this kid in high school once. We were partners at the back left table in Biology class in 10th grade. Our teacher was enthusiastic and always wore pink button down shirts. That's all I remember. I knew I didn't want to be a biologist. I also figured I'd never talk to Brendan again. I couldn't remember his last name because he never wrote it down on his homework. Name__Brendan___. He found me on Facebook a few months back, though. He had applied to be an Air Traffic Controller and was "in process" for Seattle Center. He thought long and hard about who he knew that might be a controller, and my name was first and foremost, apparently. He had questions about the hiring process (most I couldn't answer) and the job (should I keep talking?).

Well, Brendan was married, living in Texas, and was bored out of his mind waiting for the FAA to get around to calling him back. Jobs are harder to find these days. So he turned to Craigslist. He posted a request that someone buy him a jetBlue all-you-can-jet pass(not what you were expecting), and he would pay them back by doing basically whatever they asked of him. Ya know, fly unlimited on jetBlue from Sept8 to Oct8, shenanigans ensue....

So an internet magazine saw the ad and hooked Brendan up. Just fly 70 flights this month, on us. Oh, and don't ever leave the airport or the plane. He's got one week left, and he's tired, but seems to be having fun with it all. I don't personally endorse Twitter, but it's been fun following him up to the minute here.

He's also been writing some very entertaining blog-type features every few days for the company that is paying his way. You can find their link on the right side of Brendan's twitter page or go here.

I tried to catch him on his way through Boston a few times to buy him some Chowdah and arrange a Logan tower tour, but he only had a few minutes here and there between flights.

On a side note:
Many CTI graduates rightfully turned down the controller job they'd been waiting for after the FAA imposed their White Book on us and simply took what jobs they had acquired, while waiting for the FAA to call, as a better offer. Now that we have a contract, perhaps we should call these folks back and give them a chance to change their minds.

Till next time...


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