How to Get an Internship at American Airlines

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of an American Airlines plane

Interning for the biggest airline in the world is a unique opportunity for any young professional hoping to break into the aviation industry. Indeed, with a global workforce that surpasses 100,000, American Airlines offers its interns the chance to work side by side with industry leaders, gain invaluable experience and sharpen their skillsets, something which all prospective employers appreciate.

If you’re determined to land an internship with the aviation giant and help your career take off (puns intended), there’s a few things you could do to ensure success.

These steps will guide you through the process of getting an internship at American Airlines.

1. Know the basics

First things first, you need to familiarise yourself with AA’s internship programmes and practices. If you want to find out more about the company and its recruitment process, it might be a good idea to contact the airline’s college representatives.

AA sends recruiters to university and college campuses throughout the academic year, starting from September. You may also come across AA representatives at career fairs, conferences and on-campus recruiting events during February and March as well as throughout August and November.

Putting yourself out there and seizing any available networking opportunity that comes your way could help you get a head start over other prospective interns, and it could also allow you to get a clearer idea of AA’s internships.

Moreover, internship programmes run from May until August, although there are schemes with a longer duration. Most college interns can apply for roles through campus recruiters, but you can also send your application through AA’s website. You can also join the American Airlines Talent Community, which will keep you in the loop for new opportunities through job alerts, as well as help you gain insight into the organisation.

In case you need any more incentive, being an AA intern also comes with a list of perks:

  • competitive salary
  • networking events
  • travel perks and benefits
  • relocation stipend
  • relocation assistance
  • full-time employment opportunities after graduation
  • employee business resource groups (EBRGs)
  • lunch-and-learns with senior VPs
  • opportunities to work on real-time projects

2. Find the right role

Before you proceed with the application process, first have a browse through AA’s website and read up on available opportunities. AA offers a range of schemes and initiatives, all of which have their own requirements, benefits and focus. With a little research, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and apply for the roles you’re best suited for.

Depending on your experience, degree and year of study, there are various programmes tailored to students and graduates, such as the cooperative education programme, IT ADEPT, the MBA leadership programme and undergraduate internships.

AA’s MBA leadership programme is a full-time internship for MBA graduates. In order to be considered, you must have at least two to five years of business experience. Interns can choose between commercial and financial strategy as a starting point and have the freedom to pursue other areas of interest from there on. This is an excellent opportunity for business postgrads who want to develop specialised skills and attain experience in the aviation industry.

Of course, there’s also an undergraduate internship programme, which is a full-time opportunity for undergrads and students with advanced degrees. To be eligible, you need to be a junior or senior currently enrolled at an accredited four-year university.

This programme offers a much broader spectrum of roles across several areas, including:

  • legal
  • IT
  • inclusion and diversity
  • finance
  • marketing
  • human resources
  • business administration
  • procurement and supply chain
  • sales
  • industrial engineering

Meanwhile, you may also be interested in the co-op education programme, which is a brilliant opportunity to develop invaluable skills and business connections. To join this programme, you need to be a third-year college or university-level student studying in fields related to engineering, aviation management or technology.

This initiative runs twice a year during the spring–summer and the summer–fall work terms. Depending on your area of interest, you will have the opportunity to work on data visualisation, in-flight technology, fleet and powerplant engineering, quality assurance, and publications.

If you’re fresh out of college, you could also consider applying for IT ADEPT – a two-year leadership developmental programme for IT graduates. The programme’s objective is to help software developers refine their leadership skills, gain project management experience and achieve career development.


3. Submit your application

Once you’ve settled on the role you want to apply for, it’s time to put together an eye-catching application. You can either apply through your university or college, or through AA’s website. You may also be able to apply though LinkedIn if the company posts its available internship positions there.

The specifications of your applications will depend on the role and programme you’ve chosen to apply for. However, a detailed CV and an eloquent cover letter are a safe bet. You may also need to put together a portfolio of previous projects to exhibit your work and skills.

A pro tip is to tailor the content of your application to the specifications and objectives of the internship programme. This will convey you as the ideal candidate for the role. You should also allude to the company’s mission and aims, which will also show that you’ve done your homework on AA and that you’re eager to work for them as an intern.

An important step that you shouldn’t skip is refining your online presence. Recruiters tend to use social media to learn more about job candidates and decide whether they’re suited for the role. So, it’s important that all your social media accounts look professional. Alternatively, you can change your privacy settings so that your personal accounts are out of reach for recruiters.

Meanwhile, having a spotless LinkedIn profile is also crucial and could help you make a lasting impression – just make sure to include a link to your profile on your CV.

4. Ace the interview

Time to prepare for the next stage: interviews! Depending on your location and application method, you could be asked to interview on campus, virtually or at a local branch.

Your initial interview will most probably consist of a series of behavioural questions that will help recruiters determine if you’re a good team player.

This could be followed by a case study and a more technical interview that will assess your skills and experience. Based on Glassdoor reviews, the whole process could range between two to seven interview rounds.

When it comes to interview prep, practise responding to common interview questions, as this will help you nail your answers. A Glassdoor reviewer also advices to brush up on airline terminology and be prepared to show how to ‘calculate analytical questions related to the airlines’.

Overall, you should expect a mixture of the following questions:

  • ‘What do you know about American Airlines?’
  • ‘Describe a time you faced a challenging situation and how you overcame it.’
  • ‘Tell me about yourself.’
  • ‘Why do you want to work for American Airlines?’
  • ‘Tell me where you like to travel.’

You should also pay close attention to your presentation. According to Indeed, dress code when interviewing for American Airlines tends to be either formal or business casual. So, before your big day, make sure you have a professional outfit picked out, as this will definitely earn you some brownie points and help you make a good impression on your interviewers.

5. Get an offer

According to AA’s ‘Student Programs’ timeline, the company sends out its internship offers between January and March as well as September and December. According to Glassdoor, the process can take between five days to over a month, so it could take a while before you hear back. However, you could always follow up a few days after your interview and enquire when you should expect to hear back from them.

If you get an offer, then congratulations are in order! This will undoubtedly be a great steppingstone for your career. Make sure that you keep it professional and respond to the offer promptly and courteously with a confirmation email.

However, if your application is unsuccessful, don’t fret! You still have an array of other internship options to choose from including at United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

You may also want to consider internship programmes in other sectors to amplify your chances – so why not apply to industry moguls such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft? As long as you’re willing to give it a try, the possibilities are endless!

If interning for American Airlines is your goal, then make sure to follow through all these steps. The more meticulous you are, the better your chances of landing this brilliant opportunity!

Have you ever been an intern at American Airlines? Got any useful tips? Share them with us in the comments section below!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 5 July 2015.