AIM Keeps Them Flying
AVIATION INSTITUTE OF MAINTENANCE
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is part of a group of companies that began in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1969 to help veterans translate their military experience into civilian jobs and find employment. In 1994, the first aviation school opened in Norfolk to teach individuals to become aviation maintenance technicians, and AIM has been training aviation technicians ever since.
AIM is a Part 147 FAA-approved airframe and powerplant (A&P) school with campuses in the metro areas of Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, Dallas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Oakland. AIM employs more than 500 faculty and staff, and has as many as 2,500 students enrolled at any one time.
The core program, aviation maintenance technician, is designed to give students the knowledge necessary to pass the FAA airframe and powerplant exams to become certified A&P mechanics. More than half of the training program takes place in a hangar, while the remaining time is spent in small, personalized classes with certified instructors sharing their real-world experience.
In 2014, AIM launched two programs designed to fit specific niches in the aviation industry: aviation maintenance technician helicopter and aircraft dispatcher. The helicopter training provides students with all the A&P skills in the aviation maintenance technician program, as well as in-depth instruction on specific concepts, procedures, and techniques that apply to rotary aircraft. The aircraft dispatcher program is shorter; it is designed to prepare students to work in an airline’s operational control center coordinating all functions of the airline.
AIM employs veterans in all areas of its school system: instructors, program coordinators, admissions, financial aid, student services, and management. With their first-hand knowledge of situations that may be unique to the military population, AIM employees are able to go the extra mile to make veterans feel at home while at school.
Most campuses have dedicated veteran representatives to help students navigate the education benefits paperwork, connect students to community resources, and bring veterans together for social connections as well as academic support.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | C.T.JONES
C.T. Jones spent eight years in the United States Army before separating as a sergeant. His main responsibilities in the military included emergency medical technician, aid station director, counselor, trainer, mentor, and leader of soldiers. He is now the veteran affairs officer at AIM’s Dallas-area campus, where he acts as advisor, mentor, counselor, VA guru, and leader of veteran students. He started working at organization in 2013. During his time at AIM, he has received letters of recognition from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Center for BrainHealth, a part of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences of the University of Texas at Dallas.
How well veterans fit into an organization’s culture is one deciding factor when it comes to hiring, according to Jones. “I have found that, in the civilian sector, there are three reasons a company will hire an employee,” he said. “Can you do the job? Will you do the job? How well do you fit in the company culture? My ability to seamlessly blend into any environment, without compromising who I am, has been one of many military characteristics that has been helpful with civilian opportunities.”
Jones also believes that veterans need to be educated and value their resources. “I have a bachelor’s degree in public relations with a double minor in business administration and communication from the University of Texas at Arlington,” he said. “After four years as a student and five years working in higher education, I learned to do two things: Research and allocate resources. Being self-educated will place you ahead of your peers. Veterans will be surprised how much information they can receive that will aid them in their transition to civilian life. There is a very large community of veterans that have transitioned to civilian life. Allocate those resources like you would at a new duty station.”
Jones encourages veterans not to wait until the last minute to make their post-military plans. “Preparation is key,” he said. “Do not be the veteran that gets out and does not have a plan. There are plenty of opportunities available for veterans to succeed. It is up to you to be proactive.”
His experiences with the diversity of people in the military also help Jones in the civilian world. “The military is a melting pot of backgrounds, beliefs, and nationalities,” he said. “Working with a diverse group of individuals has been a definite asset to my skills set.”
Veterans will find that they have a lot in common with a lot of the staff at AIM. “In my tenure as a staff member, I feel as though AIM Dallas is great place for veterans,” Jones said. “We tend to take care of our own around here.”