It is with much excitement that I can announce I have been offered a position in the Virgin Cadetship in 2019. It is an ab-initio program that will run over 57 weeks starting in July next year. Initially intending to hire twelve applications, Virgin Australia has extended the intake to sixteen.
The selection process has been quite lengthy. With initial applications submitted in May, it took about six of the longest months until offers came through. There were two panel interviews, the hardest aptitude test I have ever done, two exams, a behavioural test, video testing and reference checks. We had to work very hard to make it through it all. Over 4000 people applied for the cadetship, and the 36 of us that were invited to the final panel interview had become well and truly invested in the opportunity, knowing they were only supposed to accept a third of us.
The opportunity itself is one of the best that the aviation industry worldwide has to offer. Virgin Australia provides us a salary while we complete the course at Fight Training Adelaide, living in fully catered accommodation. Cadets fly the DA40 and DA42, and are given individual access to a mentor from within the airline. Upon graduation, we will either become a First Officer on the ATR-72 completing shorter domestic routes, or a Second Officer on the Boeing 777-300ER, undertaking duty tours to Los Angeles. Whichever aircraft we are lucky enough to be put on, we will have a guaranteed job at Virgin Australia should we complete the program to the appropriate standard.
The airline set out with a gender ratio target to hire 50% females for 2019. Excitingly, of the sixteen people Virgin selected, nine of them were female. Nathan Burkitt, Line Manager of the Cadet Program, addressed this straight up in his first email to the group of us. His words were, “As a business we are keen to encourage and promote the occupation as an option for girls, however, once you all walked into your assessment, you were all assessed on your merit and not your gender”.
Setting quotas and gender targets has become a controversial topic within the industry and I have begun to see this outrage in my own experiences. I am comforted to receive Nathan’s feedback, as many of my friends and I have unfortunately already experienced a lot of negative feedback from males in aviation regarding our place in the industry. For an opportunity as amazing as this, I am humbled to have earned my position amongst my fifteen other peers.
In July 2017, I was lucky enough to complete work experience with Captain Andrew Bauer, Base Manager for Brisbane, from Virgin. It was a three day stint that gave me holistic exposure to the airline, and I was honestly blown away. Andy showed me how management has a level of care for their people that feeds into the way the business runs during the day to day. They appeared as an airline that would provide an enjoyable lifestyle and options to suit everyone.
I went on this work experience after already finding out that I was unsuccessful in the 2017 round of recruitment for the cadetship. Regardless of that, my short time within the airline really allowed me to appreciate how I could see myself fitting in in the long term and encouraged me to apply again this year.
While I won’t be starting until July next year, I look forward to using my spare time to hopefully find a way to engage in the aviation community in another way. I really want to find a voice to challenge the distasteful negative comments that women in aviation are increasingly receiving. I’ll be keeping this blog up to date, supporting the development of projects I created this year going forward, and maybe even find time for a holiday.
I now have the career of my dreams ahead of me and if everything goes well. I will be getting checked to line on one of Australia’s largest airlines before my 22nd birthday, and that’s pretty freaking awesome.