It was a miserable, rainy day at flight school. The cloud was so low that nobody had even bothered to pull any aircraft out of the hangar. We all just sat around, drinking coffee, talking about planes and staring out of the large floor to ceiling windows. They offered a great view across the runway to the terminal area. Three ATR-72’s sat facing towards us at the terminal. One started up, taxied out and took off towards the south. The rain never stop them flying. They kept coming and going all day. How amazing that must be, I thought. To not be affected by weather. To just turn up to the airport and go flying every day.

It was in that moment I realised that I wanted that job more than anything in the world. I wanted to be the one sitting in that ATR. I researched everything I could about that company. I learnt about their history, how big their fleet was and most importantly, what it would take to work there. It took some time, but eventually it paid off. I joined that company four years after finishing flight school and sat parked at those very gates looking back towards the flying school.

Looking back, I now realise that it was that burning passion and focus on a specific goal that has helped me become successful in my career. You need to think really hard about what your dream job is so you out too can create a burning desire. Everyone has got different ideas about what a dream job is. For some, it means being based in their home town. For others, it’s about earning the most money they can so they can lead a good life outside of work. Take time to think about what it is that’s important to you and where you want be in the future. Come up with a goal of where you hope to be in around 7-10 years so. As always with goal setting, make it specific. For example, “I want to be a 737 pilot for WestJet based in Montreal and flying all across North America” is much more effective than saying “I want to work in the airlines”.

Regardless of what is important to you, there are some factors that I think are common to everybody’s dream job. What you want to avoid is getting stuck in the dreaded parts of the aviation industry that have little reward (financial or otherwise) for maximum hours of work and very little lifestyle. I created the quadrant below to help illustrate that point as well as give some examples to help you think what the ideal job is for you. Unfortunately, we have seen a sharp rise in the jobs that fall squarely into that bottom left quadrant. These jobs are no longer valid career options as you end up with high levels of fatigue, little time off and barely enough money to pay your bills. Avoid these jobs at all costs. The only valid reason to take a job in this quadrant is get the experience required to move on to a better job and even then I would urge you to be hesitant.

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Once you’ve figured out what your dream job might be, spend the next few weeks becoming obsessive about it. Research the company, figure out exactly what their minimum requirements are so you can start planning out how you’re going to get there. It might pay to contact someone that is already working there. LinkedIn is great for making those connections but it may be that someone you already know has a friend that works there. Ask them specific questions about how they got their start and where that company hires most of their pilots from. That’s going to give you a much better idea of what you need to achieve and thus plan out your career with a little more clarity.