Commodore Careers: From Southwest Airlines to the FBI

Learn all about senior Erin Hatch’s summer interning at two very different but highly respected organizations.


Photo courtesy Erin Hatch

Heream Yang, Staff Writer

In this series, The Hustler is rounding up stories from some of Vanderbilt students’ most interesting, impressive and creative summer internships. 

This past summer, Vanderbilt senior Erin Hatch secured a coveted position as a Change Leadership Intern at Southwest Airlines, but that was just the beginning. After seven weeks at Southwest, Hatch relocated from Dallas to Washington, D.C. where she spent eight weeks working for the FBI, putting her skills as a Human and Organizational Development major into action. Here’s the inside scoop of what to expect when interning for not one, but two high-profile organizations:


Vanderbilt Hustler: What did your internships entail?

Erin Hatch: At Southwest, I worked to foster team alignment on various technology projects, assisted with the reorganization of the People Department and administered change impact assessments across company-wide projects. During this experience, I enjoyed driving organizational changes and empowering teams to better understand their goals. 

After 7 weeks, I went to DC to work for the FBI where I spent 8 weeks working on a deep dive team that was formed to analyze the Special Agent experience and recruitment. I worked to revamp their training to prioritize work-life balance, as well as utilize new technology within the FBI to attract candidates. This summer increased my interest in areas involving human capital, team development and organizational change, and I am eager to further pursue these fields after I graduate. 


VH: What was the application process like?

EH: The Southwest internship involves an online application, a phone interview and an interview at HQ. The FBI internship involves an online application, a phone interview and an extensive background check. 


VH: What were the biggest challenges you faced at your internships?

EH: One of the most challenging aspects of my internships was being up-front about asking questions, asking for advice and admitting mistakes. I quickly learned that is much better to ask for clarification immediately if you need it, as opposed to completing a task incorrectly and being too afraid to ask for help. At Southwest and the FBI, I feel incredibly lucky that I had mentors who encouraged me to ask questions and admit confusion. 


VH: What were the most rewarding aspects of your internships?

EH: At Southwest, one of the most rewarding aspects of my experience was working within my department to truly help teams better understand their goals and processes. The people I worked with treated me as a full-time employee, giving me responsibilities and tasks that encouraged me to challenge myself and develop professionally. For that, I am extremely grateful.

At the FBI, the most rewarding aspect was my work involving Special Agent training and recruitment analysis. The Special Agent position is one that I did not know a lot about before my internship, but I now understand that it is one of the most impressive and selfless roles in the organization. Leaving the FBI and knowing that I contributed to making their experience a better one was incredibly rewarding. 


VH: What was your biggest takeaway from the summer?

EH: My biggest takeaway from both of my internships is that people and culture are important within an organization. My co-workers made my experience rewarding, challenging and enjoyable, and I feel lucky that I was able to work with such incredible people at Southwest and the FBI. While the cultures were different, I left both organizations knowing that I had contributed to a mission I believed in while working with people that I looked up to. 


VH: What advice would you give to other Vanderbilt students on the internship search process?

EH: I learned a lot of my networking, recruiting and application skills from fellow students. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know for help or advice. I truly believe that Vanderbilt has some of the smartest people I have ever met, and I feel lucky for what I have learned from my friends and fellow students that I do not think I would have learned at another university. That being said, run your own race and find what career would make you the happiest.