Tony McMichael wants a career in aviation management. The Center Point man was influenced by his fianceé's uncle, Mike Wolf. Even though Wolf is a licensed pilot, McMichael was always more interested in the stories of how the airport ran rather than how the airplanes flew.
"The pilots are more visible," McMichael said. "But the staff at the airport are just as necessary in getting a plane in the air and, more importantly, getting it safely back on the ground."
McMichael, the son of Mark and Penny McMichael, is a junior at Indiana State University majoring in Aerospace Administration. To help advance his chances of achieving his dream, McMichael applied for the Indiana Department of Transportation Aeronautic Section Governor's Internship. To qualify for the internship, he had to submit an application and a letter detailing his work experiences along with a resume and cover letter.
He was recently notified that he had won the internship which is offered to just one aeronautical student from the state of Indiana each summer.
The three-month program begins Monday. McMichael will start each day at the State House in Indianapolis. Then, working under the direction of Ben Mackie, the project manager for the aeronautics section, McMichael will commute by plane, helicopter or car to airports all over the state.
The program will help McMichael meet people in the aviation industry and allow him to network with industry leaders in hopes of helping his career. It's a paid internship but the amount of money has been reduced due to the recent budget crunch. Undaunted, McMichael says the experience is invaluable. He will also acquire three college credit hours after completion of the project. He has to pay to receive the credits.
The enterprising 2002 Clay City High School graduate is determined and focused. Working at Rural King in Terre Haute pays some of his bills. But tuition costs are always a major concern. He continually looks for ways to help meet the financial demands of getting an education.
In March he received a $3,000 National Scholarship from the Airport Council International North America. Only three students nationally, who are studying airport management, receive this annual scholarship.
McMichael hopes to complete his undergraduate work in three years. Then he plans to get a masters degree and a job in airport management to gain experience. His dream is to someday get a job with the government working for the Federal Aviation Administration.
When asked how he felt about being selected for the prestigious Governor's Internship, McMichael's answer was both quick and enthusiastic.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm glad I got it. It's going to be good experience. That's the main thing.
"It's all about networking," he continued. "That's what you have to do. I really feel that this will benefit my chance of obtaining a job in management after graduation."