I’ve always wanted to be a flight attendant. When I was little, I would fly with my family. The flight attendants were always really friendly, and that sparked my interest. The job was so glamorous – flight attendants get to dress nicely, travel all over and meet lots of interesting people. I wanted to travel the world and get paid for it.

Fast forward a few years and I was working the front desk at one of the hotels that ExpressJet flight crews would stay at in Destin. I would see the crews come in and I’d hear all about their travels. I loved getting to meet these pilots and flight attendants. I decided it was the right time in my life and I applied to join them.

I interviewed and was selected to become an ExpressJet flight attendant. My training class began Feb. 4, 2013.

I went through weeks of training: the anxiety of test days, hours of studying potentially life-saving information, memorizing airport codes and making some great friends in the process. Every Friday night, we would relax together and study for the next week.

On the last Friday, we had finished all our classes and everyone had passed the final. We went out to celebrate together for the last time before graduation. After a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant, we were walking back to the training hotel when my life changed.

I was walking ahead of the group and was crossing the street at the crosswalk. I didn’t see the car coming. I don’t remember much of the accident, but luckily I was with a group of friends and their emergency training went into good use. One called the ambulance, one called my mom and the rest were collecting jackets to keep me warm and keep me from going into shock.

Luckily, we had just finished training for this type of situation. They were talking to me to keep me stable and awake; one friend was holding my head. Rose Branda and Erin Botti, now ExpressJet flight attendants and friends, rode in the ambulance with me and stayed at the hospital all night, keeping my spirits up and my mother updated (she was at home in Florida).

ExpressJet flew my mom out to stay with me. I was in the hospital for five days. I had some great doctors and they let me out the night before my class’s flight attendant graduation. My accident wasn’t going to stop me from attending graduation. I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t get to support my friends as much as they had supported me. I went to graduation in a wheelchair to congratulate them – they all deserved it!

The recovery process took about five months and ExpressJet asked if I was ready to come back to training. I talked with my doctor about my goal of returning to training in August and I worked really hard to achieve it. I was able to go back to training in August 2013 to finally become a flight attendant.

The second time through training, I wasn’t as nervous as the first time around. I helped the others in my class study, calmed them when they were anxious and promised them that they’d get through it. I graduated valedictorian and my classmates gave me the superlative award for “most supportive.”

On graduation day, I was proud to finally walk across the stage as an official flight attendant. ExpressJet’s vice president of People Resources attended personally and gave me a huge hug and congratulations. My instructor Enrique Oriol had the honor of pinning on my wings, and my other original instructors Valetta Wright and Ernesto Ros came to support me as well – everyone was very happy.

I’ve been on the job now for almost three months, based in Dulles, Va. It’s been a huge culture shock to move to such a big city, but I love it. I’ve met some great people and have worked with amazing crews. It’s fun to be in a different city every night and get to see things that not everyone gets to experience.

The airline industry is very different than how I thought when I was younger, and I’m different after my experience, but it’s still glamorous. I look forward to every day that I go to work.

-Chelsea Green, flight attendant – IAD

ExpressJet is hiring! Learn more about becoming a flight attendant and apply at www.expressjet.com/careers

An ExpressJet pilot for 24 years, Captain David Dowd says flying was always in the back of his mind growing up, but he never expected his daughter to share his childhood dream and follow in his footsteps.

“It was Ashley’s younger brother who always talked about flying,” David said. “But he suffered a near-fatal head injury and his life turned down a different path. He would have died 11 days before his 13th birthday but his sister’s timely intervention, while the adults in charge sat idly by, saved his life.”

Even though David wanted Ashley to be a nurse like her mother, especially after she demonstrated her life-saving skills, he says he should’ve known she would share his passion for flying. She had been a world traveler for as long as he can remember.

“I thought for the longest time that the only interest she had in flying was traveling overseas,” David joked.

Thanks to their ExpressJet flight privileges Ashley was able to join her father on many flights when she was younger. She loved flying with him.

“I remember getting to pass out peanuts on a Brasilia,” she said. “On another trip with him I got on the wrong plane but realized it just in time! I didn’t confess this mistake to my dad until years later.”

After a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Maui, Hawaii, David pointed out to Ashley their short, blonde, female pilot. The striking resemblance between the pilot and Ashley made David look at his daughter and say, “You know, that could be you one day,” and sure enough, it would be.

Ashley took a few flying lessons during her sophomore year at the University of North Texas where she earned her bachelor’s degree in history. After considering a master’s degree, Ashley decided to pursue her long-awaited dream of flying.

Ashley finished flight school with an abundance of knowledge, and immediately began looking for her dream job. Luckily, her father knew just the place.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, but this company has always provided me with the best training and the most up-to-date information to do my job well,” David said. “ExpressJet has great leadership, and everyone is always focused on safety, yet still manages to have fun.”

Ashley sent out multiple applications and interviews filled her calendar. Other airlines wanted her, but from the first time she walked through the door at ExpressJet, she knew where she wanted to be. Needless to say, her father approved.

“Ashley has always been an achiever. She’s a leader, she has a great sense of humor and she’s brutally honest,” David said. “ExpressJet is lucky to have her.”

Ashley was hired in the midst of big changes at ExpressJet. These changes sent her to Houston where she is now going on three years as a first officer.

“I love being a pilot,” she said. “The office view is amazing and it feels awesome knowing you are doing something only a few people will ever have the opportunity to do.”

The father-daughter team dreams of one day flying together, but they currently work on different aircraft types. While they aren’t able to fly together yet, soon they will both be based in Texas, as David will be joining our new Dallas base in February. Ashley says she admires her father and would love to have the opportunity to work with him directly.

“The only time you want to do exactly what someone else does is when they are really good at it,” Ashley said. “And my dad is really good at what he does.”

Hi my name is Branden Dungy and I’m a first officer on the CRJ 200 for ExpressJet. I came to ExpressJet from the University of North Dakota where I graduated in 2009 and was a flight instructor until 2011.

At UND, I was fortunate enough to play football for the university as well as realize my dream of becoming a pilot. I’m very lucky to have been able to work with a great teaching staff and an advisor who helped me plan my courses to manage the demanding schedule of being a student athlete and the equally demanding curriculum it takes to graduate from the UND aviation program. I spent my spring semester and summers catching up on my flight courses while I took a lighter load in the fall. A semester before graduation, I was selected to become a flight instructor for the university which I began in 2009.

Today, I’m happy to fly here at ExpressJet. It’s comforting to be at a company with stability. So far I have enjoyed the lifestyle of a reserve pilot [New-hire pilots typically begin as reserve pilots, which means they do not have a set schedule for the month and instead fulfill an on-call role]. I get to be out on the road and watch my surroundings change. Sometimes the days get long, but it doesn’t happen often. Being on reserve is inevitable, but it is a great experience if you keep a positive attitude.

The biggest transition I’ve encountered is how fast things happen here at ExpressJet. Obviously, things happen faster in a jet than a piston airplane. Though the control wheel and rudder work the same way, mentally you have to be way ahead and ready for plans to change. The training at ExpressJet before you begin flying prepares you really well.

And remember, as an airline pilot you’re not alone. It’s really easy to just ask the guy next to you for a little help. Captains respect the person who can come out and ask for help, so always ask! They have been there and have experienced more than you. I’ve tried to be a sponge and learn from every captain I fly with. Some things I incorporate in my flying, others aren’t my style, but you can learn from every captain.

My advice to future pilots is to have a goal and develop a plan to reach that goal. Put yourself in a position where you can achieve your goal, and use any tool at your disposal. Ask your professors for advice and stay in contact with your flight instructors. Chances are, they’ve been down the road you’re on and can offer their advice. And finally, work hard and don’t let any adversity discourage you.

I began my career here with friends I knew from UND and I’ve made many good, new friends since I started. I work with great crewmembers, fly leading aircraft, travel to interesting cities and meet new people on a daily basis. ExpressJet has been an awesome place to continue my career as a pilot.

Chicago-based Captain Noel Harvey and his wife Joanna know that fulfilling a lifelong dream is one of the best feelings it the world. When their after-school art classes outgrew their basement, they found themselves diving headfirst into a growing small business.

“It’s always been our dream to own a business,” said Noel. “Joanna teaches the classes and I do the behind-the-scenes work. We are very proud to be able to give back to our community and to share the power of art.”

Two years ago when Noel and Joanna moved to Atlanta with their growing family, Joanna decided to put her art education to good use. They planned on teaching a few small art classes to local students, but what started as a hobby quickly blossomed into a thriving business.

“It wasn’t long before our basement studio proved to be too small to accommodate our growing clientele. Luckily, we were able to move into a retail space a few blocks away.”

Bubbles and Brushes Art Studio officially opened in September 2011 in Newnan, Ga. The studio teaches art classes catered to all ages and skill levels, and hosts birthday parties, school groups, an open studio, mommy and me classes, and private lessons.

Joanna is the lead teacher, but they have several other artists who teach lessons, including some that specialize in art for special needs children. They offer before- and after-school classes for kids and three days a week they host a homeschool art program.

“The kids really enjoy the lessons. With all the cutbacks in the school systems, art classes have suffered. We’re happy to provide a way for kids to discover and enjoy art.”

Joanna worked as an elementary school art teacher for years before beginning the studio. Joanna’s father is a children’s author and illustrator, and her mom is a teacher, so “she put the two together.” While Joanna is the artist in the Harvey family, Noel appreciates the artwork and has started dabbling in the trade himself. He’s not ready for his own gallery showing yet, but he’s been known to sit in on a few classes and try his hand at creating a masterpiece, something he says anyone can do with the way the classes are taught.

“We both have a passion to teach, but she is the artistic one. She is teaching me!”

Building a small business with two kids under three and the schedule of a newly-upgraded captain isn’t always easy, but there is no better feeling than seeing your dream come to life

“It’s been challenging, but rewarding to pursue this dream,” said Noel. “The best part for me is overhearing people saying what a great time they had at the studio even before they know I am one of the owners.”

When I pushed “submit” on my application to become an ExpressJet flight attendant, visions of the “Pam Am” television show ran through my head as I wondered what a day in the life of a flight attendant would be like. At my first day of training, I was relieved to learn that I was not required to look like the Barbie Doll flight attendant, complete with the hat, that you see on tv and in movies. (Although, I do like hats- but not at work!)

The training for my new role as a flight attendant was conducted over four weeks by a team of enthusiastic, knowledgeable instructors.  All I had to do was pay attention, do the required study of materials and enjoy the new friendships! The teammates I met in training and working on the line are caring and supportive. We have a great camaraderie here at ExpressJet – not only with other flight attendants but also with the captains and first officers we are privileged to work with.

After ventures as a business owner, I knew becoming a flight attendant would be a great fit for me. As a business owner, I learned the importance of service, not only to my customers, but also to my employees, vendors and anyone else I had the pleasure of interacting with. For my new career, I was looking for a solid company whose mission statement embodied that same level of dedication to service with a vision for growth. I wanted a company that was not afraid of implementing positive change. I found all of that in ExpressJet.

Every day as a flight attendant, I have the opportunity to:

  • Explore new locales;
  • Enrich my life;
  • Encounter fascinating and engaging passengers;
  • Learn from the stories my passengers share with me;
  • Make a difference in passengers’ lives in meaningful, and hopefully memorable, ways;
  • Have fun;
  • Be innovative and creative;
  • Deliver service not only to passengers, but also to my crew and other flight attendants and airline personnel, and so much more!

My life at ExpressJet continues to change my life every day. My career as a flight attendant has shaped how I view the world and all the people we in the company serve. Thanks, ExpressJet!

-Fran Conway, flight attendant – ORD

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