Myrtle Beach Branch Campus, SC
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: A&P Mechanic II, Sierra Nevada Corporation
DJ Parness heard about PIA in a presentation from a Pittsburgh Campus Representative, but the location and opportunities in Myrtle Beach interested him in the branch campus along the ocean.
“I’ve always loved the concept of flight and airplanes. I enjoyed taking small electronics apart growing up…anything I could stick a screwdriver to.” His love of being hands-on and in the shop led DJ to complete the Aviation Maintenance Technology Certificate Program in January of 2016. With offers from AMES and Express Jet, DJ settled on his decision to accept a position from the Sierra Nevada Corporation in Florida. With 19 locations worldwide and growing, the benefits and opportunities ultimately drew him in.
“I do routine maintenance on aircraft,” says Parness. “Any problem on the aircraft, I’m trained on the whole thing. I use my A&P to the fullest extent.”
Sierra Nevada has a number of different programs, falling in three major categories: Defense & National Security, Space Systems, and Commercial Solutions. DJ appreciates the travel benefits he gets, but most of all he enjoys the hands-on aspect of working on the tarmac. “My favorite days are when I come home covered in grease and grime.”
While the school has grown since DJ left, it gave him the skills he needed to succeed in the industry. “The whole set up seemed right. [The instructors] care about those that care about the job. They will help you in any way that they can. The [Campus Coordinator] in the office was excellent in Career Services. I wouldn’t have gotten this job without them.”
PIA’s strong reputation in the industry has benefited as well. “Everybody that asks me where I went to school, I tell them PIA, 97% know what PIA is and how good of a school it is. Everybody has an idea of what they can do and what kind of students they produce.” The hands-on environment of the classroom and the experience with engines gave him an edge when he first started his position.
In his first position since graduating from PIA, DJ hopes to continue to grow within his current company. “It’s a huge company and it keeps growing…They treat me well, I love what I do, and I love working for them.”
When talking to people about PIA, DJ always puts an emphasis on the field and the career opportunities available. “There are openings all over the world constantly. It’s a really good field, it’s challenging and fun.” He also never forgets to mention, “It’s easier to get under a plane than to get under a car.”