Gaining Career Experience As an Intern

Patrick Wilk by AAR CORP. world headquarters sign

Hawai‘i Pacific University senior marketing major Patrick C. Wilk is gaining career experience this summer through a communications internship at the world headquarters of AAR CORP. in Wood Dale, Illinois. AAR CORP., which was founded in 1951, is an aviation support company providing a broad range of products and services to the aerospace and government/defense industries. In 2014, the company was named by Forbes a “Most Trustworthy Company.” Wilk reports to the global director of communications and reputation.

In this Q&A with the HPU Career Services Center staff, Wilk shares the value he puts on his HPU education and his summer internship.         

Tell us about some projects you’re particularly proud to have worked on while interning at AAR CORP.

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had this summer at AAR CORP. was meeting with the CEO of a partner company, Rags of Honor. Following the one-on-one meeting with the CEO, I wrote a story for AAR CORP.’s intranet (employee website). It currently is the featured story on the home page.

            Another project I’ve been proud to be a part of was working alongside the CIO of AAR CORP. A well-known aviation magazine in the nation wrote a cover story about the technological advancements in the aviation industry, and I assisted in editing the story as well as taking photographs for use in the magazine.

What are the professional standards you’re expected to follow at AAR CORP?

            Every day I’m expected to begin work at 8:30 a.m. sporting a dress shirt, dress pants and dress shoes. The company emphasizes the flat business model, so I interact with and see the CEO, CIO, etc. on a weekly basis. It’s important to show a high level of professionalism as this is the world headquarters of the corporation.

How has your HPU education helped your career progression?

            My education at Hawai‘i Pacific University is the reason for my success at this internship. After taking various marketing courses, on top of other business and liberal arts courses, I’ve been able to take advantage of every opportunity that has come my way. HPU provides a well-rounded education, addressing academics as well as diversity.

Is there a particular service from the Career Services Center you’ve found most beneficial?

            The Career Services Center, especially Career Services Advisor Mr. Ryan Tin Loy, helped me prepare for a phone interview with AAR Corp. and ultimately helped me get this full-time internship. I’ve taken advantage of the incredibly beneficial career services since I was a freshman, and it’s helped open up many doors for me.

How do you feel your internship has prepared you for your future career?

            My internship at AAR CORP. is setting me up for career success. My coworkers are genuinely helpful and care about my satisfaction at work. It feels like a home away from home. In addition, it is a good learning experience for me as I report directly to the global director of communications, who is also vice president of AAR CORP. She works alongside the CEO David Storch, which means I’m experiencing the full effect of a flat business model. This internship has instilled in me a sense of professionalism that will allow me to thrive throughout my career.

What is one thing you’ve learned from your internship at AAR CORP. that you’ll never forget?

            Togetherness. Togetherness is something I’ll never forget about my time here at AAR CORP. As I mentioned before, my coworkers have made me feel like I’m at a home away from home. They have been there for me every step of the way. Whether it be surprising me with Hawaiian gifts (Hula girl, Lilo & Stitch themed), helping me with every question I ask, or giving me brilliant business advice, it’s a blessing to have an opportunity to work at AAR CORP. with my fellow coworkers.

How important do you think internships are for a student's future career?

            I believe internships are not stressed enough at universities. Internships are beneficial in at least three ways. The first is that you get experience in your field of study. The second is that you learn how to play the role of a professional. The third, and most important way, is you figure out what you don’t want to do, so you can find the right kind of job before it’s too late.

What advice would you give to other students interested in doing an internship?

            The one piece of advice I’d give to fellow students whether they’re interested or not in an internship is that regret is the worst feeling known to mankind. It’s important to let college be the best time of your life, and it’s never too late to start.