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A career combining fast-paced corporate culture and community engagement takes flight

Area of Emphasis: Organizational Communication

In Spring 2015, Lauren’s dream to work for Southwest Airlines came true. She’d been striving for a position in the Community Engagement Internship Program given the company’s strong reputation for employee development and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

“Southwest Airlines is an organization unlike any other that cares not only about providing a quality service to its customers, but also providing worthwhile learning experiences and growth opportunities to its employees (it even embraces an ‘employees first’ mentality, unlike most companies that suggest customers always come first).”

On co-op, Lauren was responsible for organizing employee volunteer activities, connecting with the local communities where Southwest operated, distributing airline ticket donations to hundreds of worthy non-profits around the country, and assisting with community and internal event planning.

“One of the most memorable moments was a high-profile plane unveiling. Painted with symbols representing the state of Missouri to commemorate Southwest’s longstanding relationship with the state, “Missouri One” was unveiled at an initial event in Kansas City and then flown to another event in St. Louis, Missouri (where I was helping out). After the event, Southwest employees – myself included – chartered the newly-painted plane back to Dallas headquarters. As I exited the plane, CEO Gary Kelly shook my hand, gave me a hug, and thanked me for all of my contributions to the project. I will never forget that day!”

During her four months with Southwest, Lauren spent weekends taking advantage of free flight benefits and traveled 19,563 miles to destinations across the country including San Francisco and New Orleans.

“Most people think the flight benefits would be the best part of the job, but it was really just an extra perk – regardless of whether they were letting me fly for free, I’d do the work a hundred times over again.”

Learn more about Lauren’s career on LinkedIn.