An internship program the 55th Maintenance Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base has established with Iowa Western Community College is helping the installation fill vacancies for aircraft mechanics.
The base had been hiring mechanics from a pool of retired Air Force personnel, but that population has shrunk recently. The installation also has found it difficult to lure mechanics from across the country to Omaha, reported 55th Wing Public Affairs.
The internship program with Iowa Western Community College — located in Council Bluffs, just across the Mississippi River from Omaha — provides paid experience to students studying airframe and power plant disciplines. And when the students graduate, they’re eligible to be hired at Offutt if there is an opening.
“It’s great for us, because they don’t have to be trained and they have the experience already. They can come right in, and we can continue working without skipping a beat,” said Wayne Welter, aircraft maintenance flight chief for the squadron.
Even if the installation doesn’t have any open positions, the students are qualified for any DOD aircraft mechanic position, according to the story.
“Trying to get into a government job without a military background is hard, but this internship was a nice gateway for that,” said David Garretson, a second-year student in the program who has been interning with the squadron since October.
Starts just starting the program work 10 hours a week. As they gain experience, their hours are increased. Students need 642 hours of work experience to be hired by the squadron.