If You’ve Ever Wanted to be a Pilot & My Career Path to Date

I am so excited to bring this post to you today. When Aer Lingus reached out to see if I would be interested in coming out to Dublin Airport and having a go in their flight simulator, I jumped at the chance! They have just launched a very exciting programme which I am about to tell you all about. If you yourself have ever toyed with the idea of becoming a pilot, or maybe you’re just curious to know what it is like, then keep reading! I’m going to go into the ins and outs of my own career path too, as well as my Dad’s! Random, but it will all make sense…

Trying out the flight simulator was such an incredible experience and one that I hope I can do again sometime. It’s something that I grew up hearing about from my Dad. It’s basically where pilots go to train and practice flying, it’s literally like flying a plane but you’re firmly on the ground. Almost like a rollercoaster!

I’m sure that some of you know this already, but my Dad is actually a pilot himself. He was previously based in Ireland for years, but is now flying for a Gulf Carrier. With over 15,000 hours of flight time, he was the first Irish captain in the world to fly the new Airbus A350. I was very excited to sit down with him and get some insight from him about the job, how he started, and what he loves the most about it. My Dad was an army officer until he was 38, then he decided it was time to pursue his passion and become a pilot. Believe it or not, he found his love for the sky in skydiving. He was on the national skydiving team and was also a parachute instructor in the Defence Forces. At the end of the day, he said that being up in the air was his passion, he loved it more than anything. After getting his private commercial licence, the job then came afterwards.

My Dad’s favourite things about being a pilot

  • No surprises here, but, travel. Seeing new places that you might never have had the opportunity to see before. Your eyes are opened to different cultures and traditions.
  • Seeing the earth from above, the views are absolutely stunning. You’re also seeing the world from a totally different perspective every day.
  • Every day you are flying with new people that you might never have met before, but share the same passion with.
  • It’s a challenging but incredibly rewarding job. There is a huge amount of job satisfaction in this role.
  • Nothing follows you home. You leave work in work– there are no targets, no late-night emails, no office politics that keep you up at night. You do your job safely and as well as you can each day, and then you go home and enjoy your time off.

I wanted to echo all of these wonderful things about being a pilot with something that I myself love about the profession. The aviation industry is one of the few where there is complete pay equality: women have equal opportunity to go to the top and to make the same money as men. With everything that is going on at the moment with gender equality and the pay gap, I thought that this was so important to include as one of the best things about becoming a pilot.

My Dad’s advice to anyone considering becoming a pilot

  • First and foremost, make sure you are medically fit.
  • Take a test flight with an instructor to see if you like it.
  • Talk to pilots, they are the ones who will tell you honestly about the ups and downs of the job.

So you want to become a pilot – now what?

Well, you are in luck! Aer Lingus have opened their ‘Future Pilot Programme‘ as of today, and they are looking for new recruits! This is a fully sponsored, fully-mentored training programme that is run by Aer Lingus. They would love to see more female applicants, as this does tend to be more of a male dominated career. You can visit their website here, and apply. There isn’t a huge amount of criteria you need to meet other than specific Leaving Cert grades and you must be at least 18. The rest is down to interviews and aptitude tests. In the previous recruitment drive for first time pilots, Aer Lingus saw over 4,000 applicants apply for 15 spots on their programme. Needless to say… it’s competitive. But if it’s what you want to do, put your mind to it and start preparing as best as you possibly can. If you start now, you would begin your aviation career as a First Officer in 2020 on Aer Lingus’ brand new Airbus A320 and A321 Neo long-range aircraft.

I was able to chat to one of the female pilots at the flight simulator, Aoife, and found it so inspiring to see someone who clearly adored her job. Job satisfaction is one thing that she named as a highlight of her role, as well as the equality between men and women. That piece is incredibly empowering for a woman who is driven and wants to succeed.

A bit about my own career path

While we’re here, I thought I may as well go into detail about my career path to date. It might show you how all over the place I was in case you’re feeling bad about being in that position now! At 26, my personal career path is probably a bit atypical… In school I had no idea what I wanted to be or do. I’ve always known that I want to be successful – be able to afford to do nice things, go to nice places and not stress about money. I think when you are younger, you just assume that you’ll enjoy whatever it is that you end up doing. Unfortunately, as you get older, and a little more realistic, it becomes apparent that if you jump out of bed every morning and love what you do – you are one of the lucky ones.

In college, I studied Business Information Systems in NUI Galway. To be perfectly honest, I picked this course because I really wanted to go to Galway – the nightlife was unreal, I knew that first hand. I was always into business, I dropped science as soon as I could. So I went for a business course with a twist. People always look so surprised when I tell them that I did this course, it’s quite “techy” and I guess I don’t look or act like this would be my thing, and it wasn’t. I got through it though, and thoroughly enjoyed my four years in Galway while I was at it. From there, after a very random stint of working as a payments administrator in the Bank of Ireland head office, and after a lot of heated conversations with my parents about what I was going to do with my life, I started my online Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing.

I’d say I kept my parents up at night a lot of the time when I was back and forth with all of my ideas about what I was going to do with my life. My Dad became a pilot at 38 after a career change, and my mum is a qualified Maths and PE teacher. Naturally, I considered both of these professions when I was younger. When my Dad started flying, he used to fly us places occasionally, and would always bring my sister and I into the cockpit to meet the other pilot and see all of the hundreds of buttons. From such an early age I always admired this job.

How and ever, I decided that Digital Marketing was the route that suited me best. I spent less than a year working on the Digital Marketing team in Glanbia before I upped and left for New York. My first job over there was on the North America Marketing team in Clinique. (Don’t ask me how l landed that job because I honestly still can’t get my head around that one!) After 6 months though, I decided that it definitely was not for me. A more digitally focused job opportunity came up in a footwear and handbag company in the city, so I jumped at the chance.

I spent the following 18 months working as a social media manager. It was a tiring job, but people often mentioned that I was probably just on Instagram all day. A huge amount of my time was spent on Instagram and other social media platforms, but I think it goes without saying that a job in social media is more than just taking photos and videos. There is a colossal amount of strategy that goes into social media marketing and everything that complements and depends on it. When you work eCommerce, influencers, creatives, designers, copywriters, photographers, marketers, PRs (all under a corporate structure) – it is an ever-changing and incredibly fast paced job. I didn’t even mention consumers and the fact that having a job in social media so outward facing that the pressure is insane. When you make a typo, or upload a personal photo to a brand’s account – everyone sees. (Been there, cried over that).

I moved home from New York in September of last year and took some time out to breathe and attempt to figure it all out. Almost accidentally, I kept things up with my blog and social media, and in recent weeks after almost 8 months of doing this every day (and 3 years after starting out) I’m starting to think that some of my future might involve more and more work through my blog. I can’t get my head around it at all, and it’s something that you have to take day by day but it is incredibly exciting for me. But, and there is always a but, I don’t ever see myself with all of my eggs in one basket.

In a few weeks I’m going to fill you in on what I’ve been keeping under wraps since I got home. It’s essentially the next step in my career and incredibly daunting to even think about sharing, but you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and work hard if you want to change your life reap the rewards.

At the end of the day, it’s true that everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Remember that what’s for you, certainly won’t pass you by.

Niamh xx

Instagram @niamh_osullivan // YouTube Niamh O’Sullivan // Snapchat @niamhos21 // Facebook Cinnamon Soul // Twitter @niamh_osullivan

*** A massive thank you to Aer Lingus for partnering with me on this post. In exchange for this blog post and coverage on social media they kindly gifted me a flight voucher. I know that this type of content will be of huge benefit and interest to so many of you, so I love being able to bring you something of value, that is in line with everything that I talk about in general, and something that I can bring to you with the help of my Dad. I’ve never properly sat down with him and heard him speak so passionately about his job, so I absolutely loved creating this post. Thank you again, Aer Lingus! 

1 Comment

  1. June 14, 2018 / 2:29 pm

    It’s great that being a pilot can help you keep work at work and avoid office politics. My friend has been wanting to become a pilot, so I think she’d love to read this. Do you have any tips for females who wish to become pilots?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *