In a whirlwind eight weeks of activity, Florida A&M University (FAMU) student Nahshon Deering, 19, got a chance to sample the work life of an International Airport Manager.
Thanks to a new partnership between the Tallahassee International Airport and FAMU’s School of Business, Deering, a facilities management major, spent the summer in a paid internship at the Airport.
“I got a chance to rotate through the airport’s key operations areas,” he says. “Everything from assessing Airport security threat levels to understanding financial controls and business operations.
“Internships like this are vital,” he added. “The hands-on experience makes everything so much more vivid than what you get from books or lectures. It helps you decide what you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.”
The partnership with FAMU was the brainchild of Tallahassee Director of Aviation Chris Curry. At an AMAC conference last year, he met with a group of Airport Directors who were the discussing the question “where are the next generation of airport managers going to come from?”
“We were reviewing ways to bring new potential candidates to the table,” he recalls. “As a retired Air Force guy in Air Traffic Control and an Airport Director, I am aware how few women and minorities are in the pipeline. I wanted the opportunity to expose this group to aviation.”
Noting that FAMU is known nationally for its excellent business program, Curry and Rep. Alan Williams, a FAMU graduate approached the university to negotiate a partnership and were warmly welcomed by Dr. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Dean of the School of Business and Industry. FAMU selected Deering from a field of interested candidates.
“We were pleased to get Nahshon,” says Curry. “He’s poised, confident and articulate. He reminds me a little of a younger (President) Obama.”
Curry turned Deering over to the very competent guidance of Assistant Superintendent of Airport Operations Thomas Vergo. “Not so long ago I was airport college intern myself,” says Vergo. “I had a pretty good idea of what Nahshon needed to see in order to understand our operations.”
“An airport is like a small city with all the functions that a city requires to operate smoothly, from its own wastewater facilities and road construction to traffic management and security,” he notes. “And, it offers the excitement of connecting people in an ever advancing technological environment.”
“The internship partnership established with an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) is one that we hope will be duplicated by other airport managers,” says AMAC Foundation Program Manager Molly King.