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My Southwest Story: An Active Service Member Finds a Career, Family, and His Passion at Southwest

andreso Employee
Employee

Andres Oquendo Coast Guard.jpg

 

During my eight years in the Coast Guard, I have learned that teamwork is the most important factor in getting a job done. From start to finish, we have to keep an eye out for each other, as each individual plays such an important role in the bigger picture. I am lucky to be able to carry on these skills to the job I love at Southwest Airlines while continuing my service to our country in the reserves. 

 

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From my first interview at Southwest, what stood out was how much Southwest values our service members. It was the first Company that I felt put that at such a high pedestal.

 

Since 2015, I have been a Leader on the Ramp at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport. We are the hardworking Team that you see refueling the plane or balancing the weight amongst the cargo. We have to work together as one Team to react to change and overcome challenges to get our planes in the air ontime.

 

Our Unique Culture

Southwest is one of the best companies to work for in the industry because of our Culture. My colleagues, or Cohearts as we call them at Southwest, feel like my family. We really care about each other, our Safety, and well-being. We lift each other up, and we know a lot about each other. The Southwest Culture allows me to be myself, be silly, and have a lot of fun while chasing our Purpose of connecting our Customers to the important things in their lives.

 

We have three Core Values that make up Living the Southwest Way: A Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart, and a Fun-LUVing Attitude. I identify with all three, but especially Warrior Spirit, because that means getting the job done by displaying a sense of urgency and never giving up. The Warrior Spirit is very similar to the mentality at the Coast Guard. It also drives our safety culture.

 

Balancing Work and Service

Out of all the companies I have worked, Southwest has made it the easiest to be an active service member. My Leaders understand that I need the weekends off to do my military duty and they support me in my efforts. I recently signed up for another four years of reserve service, and Southwest’s support and encouragement have enabled me to feel confident in continuing my journey in the Coast Guard.

 

From September 2017 to December 2018, I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. From day one, Southwest worked with me to make it happen. We also have a dedicated Military Program Lead who has supported me throughout. During my most recent deployment, I even received care packages from the Southwest Team. It really showed me how much they care.

 

When I returned from deployment, my Leaders facilitated the transition back into my role. They helped retrain me on new policies and procedures. From start to finish, it was a great experience.

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A Military Ambassador

Southwest recently launched a Military Ambassador Program, where 48 Employees from across our Company help service members and veterans transition through their military lifestyle and their careers. I jumped at the chance to fill this role. I am very passionate about my military career. I want to help out others who have been in my shoes and make their experience at Southwest even smoother than it was for me. The goal for the program is to retain and hire more veterans at Southwest. In fact, there are more than 8,000 active duty military and veterans who are current Employees, and more than 1,300 military spouses.

 

When I heard the news that I was selected to be a Military Ambassador, I was ecstatic. This program allows me to make a difference and really connects back to my love of Teamwork and giving back to my Southwest Family.

 

I have built a long-term career that I am proud of at Southwest. I encourage other active duty military and veterans to explore their opportunities and discover their passions like I did.

 

Visit https://careers.southwestair.com/military to learn about careers at Southwest as an active duty military/veteran.