Samantha Stinson grew up in an aviation family and didn't see herself working in that field. Her family moved six times – including Tucson, Denver and China - before she landed in Wichita at age 12.
Stinson's father worked as an in-service repair engineer.
“I would go to his office as a kid and it was manuals on manuals on manuals – so much paper and he was always on the phone,” she said. “I didn't see how there was anything that could ever be fun about aviation.”
That lifestyle didn't appeal to her when she started at Wichita State. Her internship at Airbus on Wichita State's Innovation Campus changed her mind. Stinson started in Jan. 2017 as a marketing and business development applied learning student with the National Institute for Aviation Research, placed at Airbus.
“I came in here and the people were so nice and the work that I do is so interesting, it's so intriguing,” she said. “I do something different almost every day, every week. It's innovative. This company moves so fast that there's always a challenge. I love a challenge. I love doing different things. I love event planning.”
Stinson started on a three-month internship for business development plans. That three-month plan turned into much more work on marketing, events such as the Root Beer Kegger and business development.
“Slowly, I really integrated myself into the office,” she said. “I worked with pretty much our whole management team on a variety of projects. The last couple months, I've been really integrated into the WSU community and ‘How do we make ourselves a member of this community?'”
Now aviation is definitely a part of her life and may be a part of her future. She graduated in December with a degree in marketing and is pursuing a Master's of Business Administration.
Why is it important for Airbus to become more a part of the Wichita State campus?
Ultimately, everybody who is on this campus is a future customer of Airbus. If you're fine arts student, an engineer, a math major – you're going to fly on an airplane. And every person who flies on an airplane is an Airbus customer. It's important that we leave our mark here.
We want to everybody to see us as a brand they recognize. We're on campus because we can be close to NIAR and all of the talent. But it's also important that people know we're here to be a part of the community and to sustain the aerospace pipeline.
How do you define applied learning and why is it so important at Wichita State?
Applied learning is taking what you learn in a textbook, understanding the definitions, and then using it in real life.
You really to get see what those decisions look like. Everything sounds so easy in a textbook.
Getting these experiences while you're in college gives you such an advantage. Being an applied learning student, I can go ask all the dumb questions. You will never succeed without a degree, but you definitely have to learn all the, I would say, street skills of business. That's what applied learning teaches you.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I really love the strategic viewpoint, the big-picture decisions. I've always really enjoyed leadership. So I thought, ‘Ok, instead of double-majoring in management and marketing, why don't I go ahead and get a Master's degree? An MBA opens up a lot of opportunities for me in the future to move into a management role, but I also have the expertise of marketing.
I decided to do the data analytics concentration because that also ties back into marketing. It really is the future. That's what Airbus has taught me more than anything--how important data analytics is, how important understanding what the future looks like is for your career. What business looked like when I was a freshman versus what the business world looks like now is completely different.
If you don't stay up to date with technology and the way things are moving, you won't succeed. Luckily, I've gotten a view and a peek into the industry and I've worked in corporate life for about a year-and-a-half, so when I do graduate I'm going to be ready to move into the work-force and I'm going to integrate a lot easier into a company.
Why has data analytics made such an impression on your career plans?
I've learned that productivity is so important. Understanding what all these numbers mean and how they affect a business is so interesting to me. The impact that productivity has on our charge rate and how much we can charge a customer for business development – all these things are driven by so many little data points.
Seeing how it all comes together, I think, gives you a big advantage in the market. It can give a company a big competitive advantage. Understanding that is really going to help me in my career.
What advice would you give a prospective Wichita State student?
I would tell them that it's ok to be involved, it's ok to do the clubs. They're a lot of fun. Look outside of that - look for internships, reach out to the Career Development Center to see what they can do to help you. Reach out to your teachers to see what they can offer.
My freshman year, I said, ‘Nope, I'm only going to be involved on campus.' If I hadn't decided to see what else is out there, I may never have ended up here. The opportunities that are available on this campus and in Wichita itself are just enormous. Koch Industries is two, three miles (from campus). Cargill is downtown.
There are just so many opportunities that can do so much for you and put you so far ahead. You build so many great relationships. I would really encourage students to look outside of the norm, reach outside their comfort zone. I didn't want to apply at Airbus because I didn't want to work in aviation. But, I took the chance and it put me here. I love my job. I can see myself working in aviation. I'd be happy to stay here.