The final instalment in our future of flight article series shares the words of wisdom the panellists on the Reimagining our aerospace sector in 25 years’ time webinar had for current students and recent graduates.

The post-Covid-19 outlook: advice to those building a career in the industry

While we may be looking to the horizon and thinking about the long-term - building a sustainable and resilient aerospace and aviation industry - the immediate challenge and uncertainty of Covid-19 can’t be ignored. The webinar panellists shared their advice to current students and recent graduates facing uncertainty as to what sort of career they can carve for themselves in the sector – and how.

It may not feel like it, but the Covid-19 crisis is short-term, as Chana Sais, MSc Thermal Power alumna and PhD researcher at Cranfield’s Propulsion Engineering Centre, pointed out. She stressed that recent graduates should still be aiming high and thinking about their long-term career development – target what you would like to do, because each and every one of us needs to continue building our skill set.

The message from Dr David Paisley, (PhD Aerodynamics 1982), Technical Fellow/Product Development, Boeing, was: “this too shall pass”. He discussed the 9/11 crisis and the fact that Boeing shrank at the time – going through a period where they weren’t in a position to hire new college graduates. However, a few years down the line, they were able to hire graduates again: “What struck me was we had this sudden influx of recent graduates and the enthusiasm of their personalities as they came – colleagues and I looked around and said ‘we’ve been missing this.’ It was amazing to have all of these bright young graduates come in with new ideas, it lifted our spirits. Those people that came in then had been patient and waited through the downturn in the industry. You have to wait it out.” David highlighted the alternative opportunities available – such as within start-ups and smaller companies – to gain experience and “stay attached” because in the long run the industry will recover.

Picking up on this point of gaining experience, Katherine Bennett, Senior Vice President at Airbus who is set to take over as CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult later in 2021, suggested that graduates who are struggling to find current opportunities in aerospace and aviation could go and gain experience in similar fields, such as automotive and manufacturing, because those skills will be transferable. Keep learning was her key message – particularly, using any down time now to work on skills such as leadership and management which will be valuable in the future.

Further content and resources

If you’re interested in further insights and inspiration for your career in aerospace and aviation, why not tune in to our Aviation alumni portraits podcast series? In the episodes, Cranfield alumnus Maxime Debry (MSc Air Transport 2018) speaks to fellow alumni about their career paths, decisions and ambitions – with some of them sharing their personal experiences of developing a career in the aftermath of a crisis, such as 9/11. Download the episodes.

As a Cranfield alumnus/a, you have access to free lifelong career support. Whether it’s staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments using your Alumni Library Online, accessing professional development short courses, or enhancing your skills through volunteering – there are a wide range of ways Cranfield can support you after you’ve graduated. Visit our career support webpage to find out more.