Why Did I Wait

Project Description

Chris Harper

Pittsburgh Campus, PA
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Base Manager, Piedmont Airlines

After graduating high school, Chris Harper started down the path that many seniors in high school take. While pursuing a four-year degree in electrical engineering, Chris decided that the traditional college route wasn’t going to work for him. Over the next 18 years, Chris started a family and pursued a number of career options. From oil companies to lumber companies, Chris finally settled in the restaurant industry. However after working for a number of years in that field, Chris decided to pursue a technical education.

“I was always kind of destined to go into the aviation industry; I just didn’t realize it until then. My Dad owned two planes, and he is a private pilot. I was in the Civil Air Patrol as a teen and did some flight training. With as much as I liked working on my own cars and fixing things, why didn’t I think of this before?”

It was that realization that lead Chris to PIA, where he pursued his Associate in Specialized Technology Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology. Despite the culture shock of the new field, Chris found similarities in the work he did in restaurants to the aviation industry. “A lot of the mentality and attitudes are the same, but the knowledge area is different.”

When a fellow student brought up his recent interview with Piedmont Airlines in Salisbury, Maryland, Chris followed suit. “The recruiter down there that hired me would rather have someone with life experience. It was me and six other [classmates] at the same time for the interview. We all got hired.”
The interview at Piedmont turned into a career, where Chris is now a Base Manager. Currently he is overseeing a multimillion dollar project to renovate a hangar, including retrofitting the base to be a parts hub and an overnight base for the company’s Embraer 145s. His position also includes the hiring of new employees. “I wanted something to say about who was working under me. I want to build a team around myself I can rely on.”

During that interview process, Chris notes the difference he sees in PIA students versus other candidates. “Out of all the people I’ve interviewed, the people that come from PIA have the best interview skills, their resumes look the best, and they retain technical information. I’m on the other end now, reaping the benefits knowing that hiring from PIA means they’ll stick around and do a good job.”