Date: 5/10/2004 8:00:00 AM
PROFILE: STUDENT PILOTS FIRST INTERNATIONAL CO-OP WITH DELTA
University of Cincinnati pre-junior Shelby Shenkelman, 21, of University Heights near Cleveland, is used to winging her way through challenges.
But Delta had never been an ICP employer, that is until Shelby came along. “Working for Delta in Atlanta was such a perfect fit for me, and I wanted to stay with the company for my next co-ops,” Shelby explains. “But I also wanted to work overseas. I’m especially interested in working in Latin America where I can use my Spanish.”
Shelby just happened to mention her dilemma to one of her supervisors, and while she was talking, she got an idea. She’d propose that Delta join UC’s International Co-op Program and volunteer to be the “guinea student,” so to speak. Shelby wrote her proposal and, with the help of her Delta supervisor and Gayle Elliott, head of UC’s ICP, put together a presentation emphasizing the advantages for Delta and for UC students.
“I was petrified to make the presentation to some of the brass at Delta at the end of March,” Shelby confesses. “I mean, here I am, I’ve been co-opping with the company for three months. At first, it seemed I could barely find the bathroom or the elevator, and now, I’m the one responsible for convincing them to come in to international co-op. It was all on my shoulders, and it was my only chance. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I’m just a co-op.' But then I realized they weren’t treating me like 'just a co-op.' I was given so much work and responsibility. So, I just modeled my presentation on the values, practices and phrasing I’d noticed my boss using, and it worked.”
Shelby says she emphasized that participation would constitute a low-cost, low-risk venture for Delta, with the chance for high-flying payoffs in terms of certain projects. “They have hubs and service centers all over the world, so their participation could really expand options for UC students, too,” Shelby adds. “It was just the best feeling when the executive I was presenting to said, ‘Yes, we’ll make it happen,’ and my boss had a smile all over her face.”
Wherever she goes and what ever her final responsibilities, Shelby figures to expand her world. “Just going to Atlanta was a little intimidating. There are about 35,000 Delta employees there. The screening process for a co-op with them is rigorous. I have to say that I was a little nervous just to go and co-op with them and have to prove myself. But in the end when I was leaving to come back to school, I got hugs from my co-workers. They’d opened up their homes to me, fed me home-cooked meals, took me to a hockey game and so many other things. I feel like I’ve really lucked out.”
Well, if so, it’s luck she created herself.
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