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Inspiration, advice, jobs found at WAI conference

The annual Women in Aviation International Conference returned to California, offering a mix of inspiration and career opportunity.

The Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center hosted the thirty-fourth Women in Aviation International Conference. Photo by Alicia Herron.

The event was held February 23 through 25 at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, a regular host of the event that shifted to Orlando, Florida, in 2022—following a two-year hiatus prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The packed exhibit hall reflected WAI’s record-high turnout of more than 4,500 attendees and exhibitors, creating a constant murmur of conversation that kept the convention center humming at a noticeably higher volume than similar aviation events. Throughout the weekend, WAI hosted seminars on everything from refining your résumé to thriving in a male-dominated industry and networking tips.

And while the education and seminar opportunities are a draw for attendees, many had another task in mind: job hunting. Airlines and other operators advertised on-site screenings or interviews for “qualified applicants” leading up to the show, and despite the name, attendance was not limited to women. Pilots in business attire holding carefully crafted résumés and looking their professional best lined the halls of the convention center throughout the event. Several pilots noted that the ticket price—as low as $275 for a one-day student admission for a WAI member and as high as $575 for a full registration for a non-WAI member— is worthwhile if you can secure a job at the event.

Beyond experienced job seekers, the convention also hosted newcomers to the aviation world. Student pilots Genevieve Gideonse and Amal Katrib volunteered to help at the Saturday night banquet in exchange for entry and had time to enjoy the event before dinner.

“I am hoping to get my sport license maybe in the next year,” said Gideonse, who is training in gyroplanes at Chino Airport. “I’m interested in flying as a career, [and] I would love to teach at some point.”

Gideonse and Katrib both noted the positive, energetic atmosphere derived from women supporting women in what has historically been a male-dominated space.

“Aviation was never anything present in my family,” said Gideonse. “It’s been kind of a new thing I’ve discovered…I’m partially here to just see what’s possible.”

WAI will host its next annual gathering March 21 through 23, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alicia Herron

Publications Content Producer
Publications Content Producer Alicia Herron joined AOPA in 2018. She is a multiengine-rated commercial pilot with advanced ground and instrument flight instructor certificates. She is based in Los Angeles and enjoys tailwheel flying best.
Topics: Women in Aviation International, Career

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