I am an intern for AAI Corporation for Summer 2012. The position I was hired for is for a Aerosonde-UAS Training Specialist. This internship is directly what I will be doing once I graduate with a degree in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The hiring process went fairly smooth for me. I interviewed over the phone with my now head supervisor Ted. The interview went well and he was very flexible with me on starting later than the other interns, and most importantly letting me take the last two weeks off of July for military training. The process of doing paperwork and drug screening was straightforward except that it was hard to get a reply back from the company if I had a question.
I received my itinerary and instructions to Hunt Valley, MD in my email. This is AAI Corp. headquarters and where my orientation was. My work location is Fort Pickett, VA. Was a great flight and I flew first class to MD. Later I found out that AAI usually doesn’t do that but I got lucky as that was only available seating. Everything went smooth and I landed got my rental car and drove to my hotel in MD. I stayed at the Hilton Embassy Suites which was very nice for the first two days.
Day 1 of orientation we were greeted by the HR manager and she was very nice and welcomed everyone aboard. I was in a classroom of about 30 people most were full time hires and were a mix of different departments that were being hired. All the other interns were engineers except me. K-State students are the first to every be hired by AAI as flight operations interns. With that being said that is where my first major problem was. The interns were taken to go get badges and after that I was told to report to building 318 because they did not know where I was going to be working or what I should be doing. I waited for about 45 minutes in a lobby waiting for a secretary to contact my supervisor to find out what exactly I was to be doing. She was unable to contact him and I was told to go back with the other interns. I arrived back at the main headquarter building when I finally received a phone call from a lady that was doing the orientation with the full time hired Field Support Representatives (FSR). These are employees that are contractors for overseas work, flight operations, and aircraft maintenance. She told me that I would be treated just like the full time employees and go through orientation with them.
Orientation was interesting to go through with the FSR group. Of the 9 of us there I was the only intern, one was going to be an instructor and stay in VA, and the other 7 were all contractors going to Afghanistan. Most of the orientation focused on deployment training and readiness for Afghanistan. The rest of orientation focused on the pay system and how to do time-cards and expenditures. The system is very hard to navigate and is the biggest complaint I have about working here. The other interns from K-State were able to help me but it is still very difficult and is hated by all of us.
The third day was what I call the Rental Car Shuffle. The company isn’t able to get us rental cars long term in VA by using the rental cars we initially got from BWI airport. The FSR group of us had to drive back to BWI with our 4 cars. Rent 4 new cars drive them to Richmond Airport. Then return them and rent 4 more new cars for our final long term rental. I ended up with a Mazda 3 which is an alright car but it had couple dents in it and the guy at Hertz was kinda rude and not very helpful but I was able to fill the sheet out for the small dents.
The next two days was actual time working on simulators and helping students and assisting the instructors. I was very surprised by how much AAI is utilizing us as interns. On my second day working in VA I was already instructing new hires on how to fly the Aerosonde system. I was not expecting to be doing that so soon, but am glad that I will have the opportunity to gain this valuable experience. AAI is currently hiring on new instructors, but since they are short handed the three interns are filling in as instructors to the other new hires who have no experience on the Aerosonde system.
Overall week 1 went very well and I am comfortably in my hotel in Midlothian, VA at the Holiday Inn. It is a 45 minute drive to work but is well worth staying in Midlothian instead of middle of nowhere near Fort Pickett where I am working. I have been spending most my time this week hanging out at the other interns place which they are roommates in a two bedroom Executive Stay Apartments.