United Summer Associates' Dreams Take Flight - United Hub
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Watch now: United Summer Associates' dreams take flight

By The Hub team, July 31, 2017

Ever since she was a young girl, aviation science major Tahchiona Smith says she dreamed of flying. Her grandmother would drive her to the viewing area at Lea County Regional Airport in New Mexico where they would lie in the bed of their pickup truck and watch planes take off and land. "It was just so beautiful," Tahchiona says, "I love the whistle sound of the jet engine. I remember thinking this equipment is so powerful. You can get anywhere in the world in 24 hours. That was just amazing to me."

For the past eight weeks, Tahchiona and 89 other college students had the opportunity to explore the aviation industry on a deeper level through the United Summer Associates (USA) program. Launched 11 years ago at Newark Liberty International Airport, the paid internship program expanded this year to include San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, giving more students from these communities first-hand experience in our day-to-day operation. With this year's program coming to an end, the USA students shared some of the invaluable lessons they learned over the past two months.

"Working with the customers made me realize that it's important to be able to step out of my shoes and step in somebody else's," said Houston's summer associate Broderick Braziel, who is pursuing a degree in business and IT management. "Getting to talk with people from all parts of the world helped me understand that a lot of our issues are pretty small compared to other issues in this world."

Summer Associates at Newark Liberty International Airport

For Newark's Daneja Jefferson, the connections she's made during the program have made a lasting impact. "I've learned to try to build relationships with employees no matter what," she said. "You may never know who you may meet and who may help you in the end."

This also holds true for Los Angeles' Autumn Macklin, who has found a shining example in Airport Operations Supervisor Charlie Giggers. "Charlie has been a great leader. He's so enthusiastic and very happy to teach us about all the parts of the airport process."

Seeing all that is involved in getting our customers to their destination safely and on time has been an eye-opener for San Francisco's Lovina Akauola, who is interested in business administration. "I've always been involved on sports teams," she said. "Being able to make sure that everyone is playing their part and getting a plane out on time is just like that. It's one group of people working together."

For San Francisco's Joseph John Gomez, an Air Traffic Management major, a highlight of this experience was hearing from United's CEO, Oscar Munoz, on his first day. "What I learned from Oscar is to figure out really what your purpose is, and, once you find that purpose, that is what will really be the driver for you."

Group of Summer Associates at Houston George Bush International Airport

While not every student plans to stay in the aviation industry, Houston's Tachiona Smith certainly has jet fuel in her veins. She's determined to become a pilot at United, and her time in the program cemented that dream. At Houston Intercontinental Airport, she met several pilots and has taken their advice to heart.

"Everybody told me to hang in there and it's going to be hard," she said. "Stay on top of scholarships and meet people. Once you get there, it will be worth it."

Whether these students choose to stick to the aviation industry or pursue a different passion, one thing is clear – the future is bright for our 2017 United Summer Associates.

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team, October 27, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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