At Alaska Airlines, all new company leaders participate in a variety of training simulations, regardless of their role in the company. In one such simulation, new employees are placed in the airline’s operations center during a major storm and tasked with rerouting and canceling flights.
Facing an overwhelming amount of data, employees must make informed decisions in a crisis situation. It’s an experience designed to help all employees develop strong skills in data analytics, regardless of their specific job.
Using dynamic learning methods such as live simulations, senior Kimberly Boudreau is supporting the development of a new leader orientation at Alaska Airlines. Her work is part of a senior capstone internship in the University of Washington’s Education, Communities and Organizations (ECO) major.
After starting college as a human resource management major, Boudreau discovered her passion for adult education. This realization coincided with the launch of the ECO major, which she added to her studies last fall. At Alaska Airlines, Boudreau’s interests in human resources and education come together in her role as an intern with the company’s Learning and Organizational Development team.
BELOW: Watch Kimberly Boudreau discuss how organizations can translate employee talents into the workplace in the College's EDU Talks series.
Boudreau’s first project this year has been helping to redesign Alaska’s new employee orientation, in which she was responsible for all pre and post communications. By using a new learning management system purchased by Alaska, Boudreau worked on establishing an automated system of communication.
The messages communicated by this program are critical, as they directly impact employee perceptions of the company. With Alaska having a new employee orientation every Monday, Boudreau’s onboarding emails will have reached approximately 5,000 employees by the end of this year.
Upon completing her work on the new leader and employee orientations, Boudreau turned to working on software for a new learning management system. The new platform is a place where employee training materials can be uploaded, organized and easily accessed in the future. By streamlining naming conventions for the learning materials, Boudreau’s work continues to support leaders and employees within Alaska Airlines.
While adult development and education is now a focus of Boudreau’s studies, she wasn’t aware of the potential career pathways that existed until she discovered an adult development course offered by the College of Education. Through multiple courses in organizational development, Boudreau started seeing her areas of interest coming together.
“I saw the Alaska Airlines internship and then the ECO major came out. That was the icing on the cake because before that they only had majors for working with kids. That’s where my decision to add an extra year and do the ECO major came from.”
Looking back, Boudreau says that one of her proudest moments as an intern at Alaska was seeing her onboarding email campaign succeed. It took six months of work and collaboration with a graphic designer to get every detail just right.
“There was a check-in meeting about certain aspects of the project and I would always say that I didn’t think it would be ready in time. They would remind me about the backup plan and tell me to keep trying. The leader’s vision and encouragement helped me to succeed.”
In the future, Boudreau intends to continue developing her dual areas of interest by getting a doctorate of education and corporate learning in order to promote adult education as a promising career option, especially for education majors.
“The bare bones of it, especially in HR, is to make good workers. Good employees, co-workers, leaders and managers. I see people in my classes who encourage me through conversations and their time, which are skills that they could apply in education positions at large corporations.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications