A season to remember: College student shares experiences as summer hire

  • Published
  • By Erin Lewis
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Every year, if funding is available, the summer hire program at McConnell allows numerous students from the area to apply for jobs around base. Approximately 100 students applied this summer, and only 37 were selected for positions.

As a civilian, with no affiliation with the military, I heard about the program through a close friend.

After completing the correct paper work and a resume, I was offered a position with the 22nd Air refueling Wing Public Affairs office for the summer.

I was a little bit scared, but excited about starting something new. I grew more nervous as my first day of work approached. With very little knowledge of the military, I was not sure what to expect.

The first day of work was a huge sigh of relief as the people in the office welcomed me with open arms. They all seemed very relieved to have an extra body to help out. Even in the very beginning, it was refreshing to pass people in the halls and to always receive a smile from someone.

I was quickly put to work interviewing people and writing stories for the e-Contrails, McConnell's online publication. Through the interviewing process, I learned the members of McConnell are very diverse and every career field is important in the correct functioning of the base.

The more time I spent with military members, I realized my previous notions about the military being stiff and unkind were completely wrong. Military members do have great personalities and also a life outside of McConnell.

Our office became extremely busy as preparations for the 2007 Open House began, but it was great to see how everything fell into place, and everyone worked together to accomplish one main goal.

I will never forget July 14-15, the weekend the Open House occurred. I actually got to fly with the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

During my time as a summer hire, I also had the opportunity to accompany a fellow co-worker to cover McConnell's Rodeo team practicing here July 9 for the 2007 Rodeo, a readiness competition which was hosted by Air Mobility Command at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., July 22-28. We were side-by-side the team the entire day, and they included us in everything they did. Their patience was unbelievable as they never hesitated to answer a question.

Other than working with the Rodeo team the entire day, the highlight was the KC-135 practice flight, on which I got to go. The weather became an issue, and we were almost delayed for another day, but determined for the sky, we headed down the runway only half an hour behind schedule. My excitement was unbearable as I was able to sit in the cockpit with the pilots. The plane took-off without a hitch and the pilots' expertise was unreal as they went about their business with ease; they made it look so simple. I'd never experienced a smoother plane ride in my life.

Watching the sun go down from the cockpit, and observing a simulation refueling next to the boom operator was the experience of a lifetime. Words can't even begin to describe what it was like.

I cannot thank the members of the Rodeo crew enough for that amazing day.

I have met some truly incredible people this summer and was able to experience things that some people can only dream about.

I want to thank the members of McConnell and the summer hire program for giving me this amazing opportunity. I am grateful to everyone that made this a summer to remember.

If the summer hire program is available next year, I highly recommend it to all who are considering trying it.

For more information on the summer hire program, people should call the civilian personnel office at 759-4339 around February.