Choosing a career path. It’s kind of a big deal.
It’s one of life’s trickiest rites of passage between childhood and adulthood, and it starts out as a dream-like state where the possibilities seem truly endless. From actor to flight attendant, a child’s imagination is almost always exclusively infatuated by the most glamourous and exciting of career prospects.
It also has this uncanny knack of reappearing at least once throughout your adult life, and that’s usually where reality hits hard. There’s no benefit of hindsight.
After committing years of study or work experience to get your foot in the door, there is every possibility that your expectations and visions of grandeur will be tested as your chosen career turns out to be a somewhat different reality to the one you envisaged all those years ago...
That’s where someone like Cindy Douran shines. As a Cabin Crew Instructor for Aviation Australia, she is a guardian angel for all the kids that were fixed on the glamourous dream of jet-setting across the globe with perfectly coiffed hair, shiny shoes and a beautifully bold uniform.
Cindy is worth her weight in gold, possessing a depth of hindsight and experience that can’t be bought, and she so willingly shares all of it with her students. Her career in aviation started in 2006 as cabin crew for a small Australia charter airline from Norfolk Island that operated services to the east coast of Australia.
“I quickly learnt that the duties and responsibilities of a Cabin Crew member was definitely not as glamorous as I once perceived it to be. Some people think that being Cabin Crew is easy. In actual fact, it can be difficult in more ways than one. It can be difficult work getting an interview for the job. It can be difficult work getting the job. It can be difficult work training for the job and it’s even more difficult doing the job!”
It’s hard to imagine Cindy finds any task too difficult. She has a warm and calm demeanour that exudes confidence, and her attention-to-detail is undeniable when you see her perfectly pressed uniform and her beautifully presented hair and makeup.
“The role of a Cabin Crew member can be physically and emotionally demanding and there is a high degree of responsibility involved. Cabin Crew are expected to deal with all passengers diplomatically – even when feeling the effects of travelling through time zones and spending extended periods of time on their feet.”
Each year Cindy trains more than 100 men and women who undertake cabin crew employment or preparation courses, and when you hear the confidence and conviction in her voice as she delivers a course, you are left feeling as though she was born to do this very role. But that isn’t entirely true.
“Taking on an airline training role was never a career aspiration of mine, but the aviation industry can open up so many opportunities that you didn’t even think were possible! I have been in this training and mentoring role for approximately seven years, and it is such an honour to prepare and inspire so many individuals who are wanting to pursue a career in aviation.”
Aviation Australia’s cabin crew training facility is located within Brisbane Airport and is used by most of the major airlines here in Australia. The state-of-the-art facility offers cabin trainers with smoke and audio capabilities to simulate a lifelike cabin environment, providing optimum conditions for integrated safety and service procedures.
The courses are extremely hands-on, with students taught how to operate aircraft doors in both a normal and an emergency situation. They also undertake practical training to successfully fight an onboard fire and deal with a decompression scenario. They also get to experience how to survive in a water landing scenario in a purpose-built indoor pool and are honed at how to evacuate passengers safely down a slide. It’s no wonder students come from all over the world to train here in Brisbane.
“Aviation Australia works closely with airline recruitment companies and several airlines to assist trainees in gaining employment in the industry. Trainees who conduct the course have access to employment support service from the first day of training until well after they graduate.
“There have been so many success stories, but there is one that springs to mind of a young man that did the course and was successful in gaining employment for a major interstate airline. This young man went from strength to strength within a short period of time and is now in a management role.”
For any budding travel enthusiasts wishing to become cabin crew, Cindy recommends that you do your due diligence and homework first.
“Each airline, whether that be in Australia or overseas, has different pre-employment entry requirements. These pre-employment entry requirements vary from age (over 18 in Australia), height or minimum arm reach, academic level, swimming ability, customer service experience and passport requirements (some International airlines will accept all nationalities, but they must hold an up to date passport from their country of residence).”
In Australia, there are no formal qualification required to apply or work for an airline. The pre-requisite for most Australian airlines is that candidates must have or be able to attain a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) and provide First Aid Certificate. Australian airlines also request candidates to have some level customer service experience.
“I feel the proudest when I see an ex Aviation Australia cabin crew trainee come to the facility wearing their airline uniform or when I receive an email stating that a past trainee has secured a cabin crew position with an airline. Knowing that I have influenced that individual in some way or had something to do with their career path is very gratifying.”
The huge smile on Cindy’s face widens as she looks to her six trainees who are about to complete their Cabin Crew Preparation course. They’ve been placed in the best possible hands to get them ready for a career in the skies, and Cindy can’t wait to see them soar.