The Irish aviation industry is renowned worldwide as a centre of excellence and is arguably the pinnacle of this industry worldwide. For such a small country, Ireland is home to the largest aviation lessors and financiers. The sector directly employs some 1,500 people and accounts for some €663 million yearly, rendering it an important factor in our economy. From the tumultuous story of Tony Ryan’s GPA to the ever-so-scandalous Ryanair, our small nation is steeped in aviation history. With the likes of Avolon, SMBC, GECAS and AerCap located in Ireland, the future of the industry looks bright.
Naturally, students are attracted to these companies as areas of employment. The stable industry, strong brand names and allure of the aviation industry is usually enough to get college graduates to apply to the aforementioned companies. Sprinkle in a generous starting salary (read €50,000 in some companies) and it’s plain to see the hype.
There is, however, one massive caveat associated with all those favourable elements; competition to be recruited is notorious. The average acceptance rate is rumoured to be lower than 5%, which is scarcely believable considering those who apply are already exceedingly well qualified.
Applicants to lessors are expected to have an aviation-focused education, such as DCU’s Bachelor of Aviation Management course. Masters are pretty much a prerequisite too, again with aviation ones favoured by companies. Some of these are absurdly expensive, costing up to €17,000 (we’re looking at you, Smurfit). Granted, it’s an investment in oneself, but the price tag is still bewildering. Still, this may not be enough to get a foot in the door of these highly selective establishments. ‘Knowing a guy’ in aviation companies is usually a fool-proof way of getting selected. I stress ‘guy’, as this is known as a male dominated sector, which makes the task even more insurmountable for our female counterparts.
On a more optimistic note, there are measures to put in place to increase chances of selection. Summer internships are one, as the entry criteria is more achievable (read not impossible) and tends to lead to offers for successful applicants.
Elsewhere, the Irish Aviation Students’ Association (IASA) is an organisation I came across last year which may be a useful measure for aiding students to overcome the barriers in the industry. IASA aim to ‘bridge the gap between students and industry’ through various networking events, informative reports and recruitment fairs. The latter is especially useful to students, with the top aviation players all in attendance. Here, students can avail of free CV clinics from aviation companies themselves, ask questions to recruiters and network with like-minded individuals. Their ‘Aviation Career Expo’, which will take place on the 22nd of October, is the largest of its kind in the country, which is quite admirable considering the organisation is a non-profit run by students. Who knows, it might just be where your career takes off?
Alex Lohier – Deputy Editor