Two UVU School of Aviation Sciences students were recently selected to intern for United this summer, Erick Gregersen and Eric Severson.
Erick Gregersen took the scenic route to UVU School of Aviation Sciences. After graduating from Riverton High School, Erick attended Salt Lake Community College, Utah State University, and University of Utah. Erick knew he wanted to fly and started out in aviation, but he was somewhat deterred by the expense. During those years he explored different areas of study, including business and Japanese. He served as a missionary for his church. He got married. He had kids. At one point he withdrew from school and went into law enforcement, where he worked at the Utah State Prison and with the Ogden Police department. Ultimately, Erick realized he still had a passion for aviation and was determined to find a way to make that dream to fly become a reality.
Married, with two kids, Erick realized “aviation is something I have always wanted to do.” He decided, “You’re never too old to follow your dreams.” Erick became a stay-at-home dad and went back to school, taking his classes online. “I had heard a lot of good things about the program at UVU and that it is one of the better aviation schools. So I came here. Now I stay at home with my kids, I take classes online, and I fly.”
When asked to recall something that influenced him in his studies here at UVU, Erick says he still remembers something Chief Flight Instructor Diane Hager advised when she came to talk with new students. She encouraged students to become involved. Erick is looking to shorten his commute and take more advantage of those opportunities this next year.
Erick heard about the internship programs here through a former flight instructor, Dane Smith. Smith had at one time interned with United back when it was Continental and was so impressed with the company, he was still recommending it to students. Erick kept an eye on the billboards in Hangar B and applied late last fall, only to learn the internships had already been filled. He was encouraged to apply again and didn’t hesitate when applications opened up again early this spring.
To prepare for his interview, Erick teamed up with his wife to help him come up with possible questions he might be asked during the interview. “She would ask me the questions, then write down key points she thought were good. That really helped me gather my thoughts ahead of time.” Going into the interview, Erick found the United team to be warm, friendly, and easy going. “I had been told to just be myself, so I was.”
When asked what advice he would give to other aviation students, Erick replied, “Grade are important. Keep a good GPA – that’s going to help you fare better against the other candidates. Also, get involved in student government and in Alpha Eta Rho. The biggest thing they [recruiters] want to see is that you’re passionate about aviation. Have your sites set on the big airlines so when you’re asked ‘Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?’ they can see that’s where you really see yourself. That’s what they’re vetting students for. They want to see you do well.”
Erick will be working in the Chief Pilot’s Office in the San Francisco International Airport. His internship starts the 19th of May and runs through September 9th.
“I decided I wanted to be a pilot while sitting in my high school English class. I was handed a piece of paper that listed jobs and salaries. I was only looking at the top. ‘Pilot’ was right there at the top and I realized it had never occurred to me before that I could be a pilot. From that point on I never desired anything else.”
Richard “Eric” Severson went to Westminster on a soccer scholarship. “Soccer was my thing,” said Eric. He had played 4 years at Bingham High School, was on a club team, and was also on an Olympic development team. Once he got to college, however, Eric found himself without much of a plan as to where to go from there. He transferred to Utah State for a semester. He served as a missionary for his church. When he returned, he followed his friends down to UVU.
Eric came down the airport to check out the facilities and realized “I should have come here from the beginning.”
Eric strongly recommends students get involved in the extracurricular opportunities UVU offers. “Sometimes it may seem we’re a bit cut off from main campus. We take our courses here, so we don’t always know what’s happening on campus. But they have a lot to offer.” Eric participated in the Residential Engagement Coordinator Program, which was a great leadership opportunity. His chief responsibility was to plan activities for his housing complex. “I really loved being a part of that program,” Eric said.
Eric also recommends becoming involved in the UVU Honors Program. The Honors Program requires at least three semesters of Honors Colloquium. “As part of that program I got to sign up for fun events such as cross country skiing, the Sundance Film Festival and we attended some plays. It was a lot of fun.”
Not only did Eric enjoy being involved in those extracurricular programs, “I feel the experiences I had in those two programs were important during the internship interviews.”
Eric credits Captain Jim Green for making him aware of available internships. “He talks about internship opportunities every semester. From that point I knew that was something I wanted to do. I had it as a goal in mind.”
When asked how his training at UVU helped him prepare for this opportunity, Eric explained, “The skills we focus on so much make us the pilot in command of that airplane. They made me more decisive and more of a leader, because I had to take control. UVU does such a good job of focusing your training to prepare you to carry that responsibility.”
One thing that helped him prepare for the internship interview was to become familiar with the company and the recruiters. “I made sure to find out about the recruiters beforehand. I knew one of them was coming to the internship fair. I knew her name and was prepared when she came. I took my resume to her and gave it to her in person, so I was able to get to know her before the interview.”
As for advice, Eric would encourage students to “Fly as often as you can and build that time. Study on the ground – don’t put off your ground lessons. Come prepared to those and get those done because that will help you get more flight time.” Eric takes a blended approach to coursework. “In the beginning I wanted to do everything in person, to get to know the program and the instructors.” Now he is familiar with both, he likes to take online classes. “I can take them at my own pace and that gives me more time to fly.”
Eric will be working out of United’s Newark Liberty International Airport. “That was my wife’s first choice, but I wanted to go because I’ve never lived on the east coast before. The only time I’ve been on the east coast was once when I flew out of JFK.”
We wish Erick and Eric the very best success!