Dallas, and surrounding suburbs, is full of headquarters for many large national companies. Many of these companies offer a variety of internships in many different fields. Southwest Airlines is one of those companies, headquartered just fifteen minutes away from SMU’s campus. This fall semester TAI Strategic Brand Management student Camryn La Sala has taken the semester off to intern for Southwest Airlines. La Sala is midway through her internship, and has loved every minute of it.
La Sala applied for multiple fall internship positions with Southwest Airlines last spring. She was contacted in late April to do a phone interview, and had a final in-person interview in mid-July.
“At the time [of my phone interview] I was taking classes at SMU’s campus in Taos, New Mexico so finding cell service was a bit interesting to say the least, but I made it work!” La Sala said. “After not hearing back from Southwest for weeks, I assumed they found someone else to fill the internship position. Then come mid-July they asked if I was able to come to Headquarters and do an in-person interview. I spent my summer back home in New York, so they graciously flew me down the night before my interview and put me up in a hotel room at the Double Tree not too far from Dallas Love Field Airport and Headquarters. About two weeks after my in-person interview I heard back from the Southwest Airlines hiring team and was offered the position!”
As the Brand Communication Intern, La Sala is part of the greater Brand Management team. Although her responsibilities change on a regular basis, her overall job is the make her supervisor and team’s projects easier by providing them any assistance they may need.
“Every day as a Brand Communications Intern at Southwest Airlines is different,” La Sala said. “No matter what, I know that I will walk into the office every day to a welcoming team that strives to make sure that I have the best internship experience possible. This is my fourth internship, and I definitely could not say that about all my past experiences.”
La Sala has especially enjoyed the culture at Southwest Airlines, where she feels like part of the team and not just an intern.
“Every employee at Southwest Airlines is treated like an equal, including interns,” La Sala said. “When I was working at the Chicago Airport for WOW! The Customer Day last month, my team consisted of two full time employees as well as the Senior Director of Marketing, whom made a point to ask me my name and have a conversation with me. It is important to be nice to everyone because at Southwest Airlines you really never know if you’re talking to an entry level employee or the VP of marketing.”
So far, La Sala’s favorite memory was being flown to Chicago for Southwest’s “WOW! The Customer Day,” part of Southwest’s YES Activation. She was part of a team that gave away prizes to customers, including Rapid Reward vouchers, drink coupons, gift cards from Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“For the whole day we interacted with Southwest Airlines customers by playing gate games,” La Sala said. “At one point we had a rock, paper, scissors tournament with eight different people! It was just a really awesome feeling handing out free gifts to our customers just because we love them. Southwest Airline’s culture is one of the most important parts about their company and it was nice to go out into the field and show that to people first hand. It was also very cool meeting the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, when walking through the MDW airport later in the day!”
As Southwest Airlines is a major company, La Sala has found herself working on advertising campaigns that she had previously learned about in her advertising classes at SMU.
“It is super rewarding learning about certain things in a classroom and then coming to work at one of the best companies in the world to see it all play out,” La Sala said. “This internship has taught me to think on my feet. You always need to have your notepad ready, to prepare for the next task. You always want to be prepared. I bring my notebook with me to every meeting!”
Although she is only part of the way through her internship, La Sala is already advocating for Southwest, encouraging other students to apply.
“Interning at Southwest Airlines is worth the hype,” La Sala said. “I could not have asked for a more amazing company to work for. If any other SMU students are thinking about applying to intern or work at Southwest Airlines, do it! It will be a great experience, no matter what the outcome is!”