TAKING OFF INTO MY CAREER

BY: GARRISON KENNEDY

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON JULY 26, 2019

This is my second draft. My first one was essentially a prologue and the last time I checked, no one buys a great novel for a prologue. I’ll shorten it and make it digestible but I would be remiss if I don’t tell you a little tidbit.

I love jets. No, not New York, and DEFINITELY not Winnipeg, but fighter jets. The technology and performance are unparalleled and mind-blowing. The noise shakes the land we walk on. Ever since I went to the Dayton Airshow  in elementary school, I was sold. It checked all the boxes that little kids love: loud noises, high speed , flight, and just wicked cool. I fell in love. I had my dream.

Now I didn’t make the decision to become an aerospace engineer right then, mostly because I didn’t even know that aerospace was a word. That came along later, but I said this wasn’t a prologue so I digress….

The little kid in me has always been prominent. I always try to stay connected to this  fun-loving, excitable being because it keeps me true, grounded and always helps me look forward to tomorrow. The immature me was the only person in the Eglin Air Force Base information session that was grinning ear- to- ear when the recruiter was listing the jets they work with and the experiments they conduct. 

As far as my day to day duties go, I am not permitted to go into specifics. I am a Flutter Engineering Intern in the 96th SEEK EAGLE Office. The office is split into different departments (mine is flutter) and have different objectives that all lead to the same goal of making sure the pilots can launch missiles, drop bombs, fly with stores and conduct their mission with reliability, certainty, and safety.  The fighter jet I’ve been looking into is the F-16 but our office is involved with literally every bomber, fighter, and cargo aircraft in the Air Force. 

The drive that keeps me going is taking the world’s greatest, and making it even better. That excitement I have when I hear afterburners is funneled into my job efforts in hopes of giving it my all and making an impact– even if I’m just an intern. I want to improve as a person and become the top candidate  when the job search comes around. The best way to do that is to give everything I am assigned at work 110%. . I am truly blessed with this opportunity and I do NOT plan to waste even a second of it. Three hardworking college years are starting to pay off and I am so excited! I will not disappoint my younger self. I could not have picked a cooler, more valuable place to end up than Eglin AFB.

Eglin AFB is the experimental hub of the Air Force. They house massive amounts of top secret data and hardware on the most cutting edge technology systems in the world. The kid in me can’t contain himself. I get to walk out of work every day and look up to see two F-35’s banking above me during a mission training that creates  contrails from the wing and shock diamonds out of the exhaust with decibels so high I have to wince from the noise. Not to mention that the interns got to fly doors open on a mission aboard a UH-1N Huey that ran tours in Vietnam, except in addition to landing in a rainforest amidst a downpour, we landed on the beach a couple times for good measure.

I could ramble descriptions out all day, but that’s not the message I’m trying to send (but if you want to talk about any of this, please reach out because I could go for hours). The little boy watching the Blue Angels fly in tight formation and buzzing the runway has kept me motivated through countless hours of grinding away at Gorgas Library or those stressful nights full of cramming anything and everything into my brain before the night of a test. It gives me the willpower to fight through the tough times while keeping my spirits up. The driving force for college has been the little flame that started years ago in Dayton, and now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The overarching message of this story is to never forget about the kid inside of  you. Stay true to what you enjoy! Believe it or not, I had people telling me I’d switch majors by sophomore year because I couldn’t handle it. Heck, my mom waited until I finished my freshman year before she put the Script A on her car because she wasn’t sure I’d stay! But I stayed true, stayed grinding, and now I will hopefully stay successful. Never let the passion that sets you on fire fade away. Let the passion guide you through life and you won’t be disappointed where it takes you. 

Thank you to everyone reading this who have supported me over the past year (and some of you beyond that). And most importantly, it has been 4,660 days since Tennessee has beat Alabama. Roll Tide.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garrison Kennedy is a senior studying aerospace engineering. As apart of the Fall 2018 Pledge Class, he was a little late to the party, but is taking full advantage of his short stint. Originally from Bowling Green, KY, Garrison is involved in American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics on campus and will start his senior design project in the fall. This summer he is interning at Eglin AFB just across the bay from Destin, FL. Garrison enjoys watching, talking, and playing sports and loves how it brings people together. He also loves Star Wars (shocker) and thoroughly enjoyed Game of Thrones Season 8 because he is a rational human and saw it coming from a mile away.


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