The University of Montana College of Technology - Associate’s Degree, Business Management
Jacquelyn Wold, a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines, will excitedly tell you how she decided to become a flight attendant when you ask her. It’s simple. She left it up to fate. One coin flip later, Jacquelyn decided to pursuit a life in the sky, traveling everywhere from Mexico and Florida to New York City and Vancouver, B.C. Flying with her is a study in flight etiquette, and inspired by Audrey Hepburn, she is every bit as much of a lady as you would think. She is a woman who knows her priorities and defines them clearly. At the very top rest her family and friends, who she would do anything for. In her spare time Jacquelyn enjoys cooking, going out with friends and dressing to impress. Read on for a pro’s glimpse from the airline aisle.
Never settle. It’s the best advice in all areas of life.
Have you always wanted to become a flight attendant?
No, I never imagined my life would lead me down this path, but now that it has I can’t imagine my life without flight.
How did you begin your career and get to where you are now?
I began by going on to the Alaska Airlines website, clicking on “careers” and then applying to be a flight attendant. From there I went to Seattle where I went through two group interviews and a solo interview. Once I was accepted I packed a suitcase and was off to five weeks of flight attendant training. I graduated from training and was shipped off to Anchorage, Alaska, where I began working, and the rest is history.
Was there any one person or situation that helped you along your path?
My cousin helped me immensely. She was a flight attendant for 11 years and inspired me to become a flight attendant. She also helped me figure out which airline was the best to apply for a job at and gave me a general idea of the life of a flight attendant.
What is your typical day like?
There is no such thing as a typical day! That is the best and worst part about my job. I work a variety of different hours and you go to a variety of different places. I am almost always working with new people. In the beginning I started off as a reserve flight attendant. This means I was on call for three to five days a week and could be called to do anything and go anywhere in those three to five days. I had a minimum of two hours notice before a trip, and they can change my trip as often as they want once I get to the airport. The only part of my job that can be considered somewhat typical is once I get onto the aircraft. Making the announcements, working the beverage cart and chatting with passengers are things that are pretty standard, but I still am always working a different position on the aircraft. Some days I am in first class, and others I am serving the food or drinks. I can honestly say my job is never boring!
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?
I have learned to let go. I always wanted to control everything in my life and that can put a lot of pressure on a girl, especially if you believe you have failed. Being a flight attendant, I am placed in a world that is unpredictable, leaving me to make last-minute decisions and throw all concept of making plans out the window. I don’t stress as much about the future, because I know everything always works out. I always end up coming home again.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today?
I think the biggest challenge is balancing a career and a family -- and doing it well. Women are amazing in the fact that they can give their all at work each day, come home, and continue giving to their family. It takes amazing balancing skills and complete selflessness to accomplish both successfully.
What inspires you?
Listening to people’s stories. I have met many amazing people with fascinating stories about love, life, loss, traveling ... Each one teaches me more about how I want to live my own life.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never settle. It’s the best advice in all areas of life. You can accomplish so much if you believe in yourself and if you never give up. So never settle for less than what you desire and deserve.
What is something about your job that other people might not know/realize?
It’s not always a party. It has its benefits and it can be amazing fun, but it’s also very hard on the body. You abandon all ideas of a normal sleep and eating schedule. You spend most of your life at an abnormally high altitude, and it ages the body much quicker. Layovers generally allow enough time to sleep, and if you’re lucky, get a workout in. You also learn quickly how to be alone, because you spend most of your life either surrounded by strangers or alone in an unfamiliar city.
What advice do you have for those who desire to work in your industry?
Don’t give up. The industry is unpredictable. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster ride. Some people had to go through the interview process three or four times before getting hired. Some failed training and had to start the whole process over again, but perseverance prevails, and it’s worth it in the end.
What have you discovered about yourself through your job?
I have discovered a strong, independent woman who had been waiting 21 years to come out. Before I became a flight attendant, I was quite shy, I couldn’t eat in a restaurant by myself, couldn’t do much alone and fought low self-esteem. Being a flight attendant forced me to be comfortable in my own skin as well as how to survive in unfamiliar territory. I have been pushed to my limits only to find my limits disappear.
What is the best part of your job?
Getting paid to see new places. Once I was sitting on the beach in Hawaii looking out onto the water, and it took my breath away. I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I am getting paid to be here. What could be greater than this?”