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California Teen Chooses Wichita, Cites Array of Aerospace Internships

Written by Emily Younger

A California teenager and aviation enthusiast is preparing to embark on a summer adventure in the Air Capital of the World, a place he only recently visited after learning about the aerospace internship opportunities available to high school students.

“I did a couple of quick online searches. Of course, California is known for its research opportunities. There are a bunch of them here, a lot of startups. We have Apple,” explained Adi Jain. “But the thing is these internships were only open to undergrad or graduate students and obviously I haven’t even graduated high school yet, so how am I supposed to apply to these?”

That’s when Adi, a 16-year-old from Cupertino, California, a suburb of San Jose, expanded his internship search.

I found companies I knew, for example, Cessna, Spirit AeroSystems,” he said. “I saw that they were all out of state, all out of California.”

Never having visited Kansas or spent an extended amount of time away from his parents, Adi applied for a high school engineering internship at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita. Before he knew it, he was flying to the Sunflower State in April to interview with the company.

“I was like ‘This is a much different environment than California.’ I talked to locals, and they say there is a lot of traffic, but when you are coming from California it feels like nothing!” he laughed.

Traffic was not the only surprise – Adi and his father, who traveled to Wichita with him, commented on the foodie scene and the Midwestern culture, specifically the kindness of others.

“The city is clean and beautiful. The WaterWalk downtown is breathtaking. Restaurants served especially tasty and authentic food. People we interacted with at airports, hotels, and restaurants, along with the event coordinators, were extremely friendly and helpful,” said Adi’s dad Arpit Jain.

“Definitely a great experience. Anywhere from the hotel managers, hotel workers to the workers at the job fair. Even in my interviews, they went beyond just answering the questions,” he said.

There is no question Adi will be back. He is one of 53 high school students selected to participate in Spirit’s summer internship program, allowing him to explore and gain hands-on experience in mechanical, industrial, electrical and aerospace engineering.

“I am just really looking forward to coming out there in the summer and spending my time with a lot of excellent people,” Adi said. “It’s something that can increase my technical skills in this field and grow my connections.”

Adi is already making connections, having left quite an impression on Spirit AeroSystems staff during his in-person interview.

“Our internship program lead came over and showed me his (Adi’s) resume and said this kid found Wichita in on an online search,” said Alex Hamel, Spirit AeroSystems’s HR pipeline development and youth program lead. “I am like, ‘no way’ then I looked at his resume and sure enough he is from the San Jose.”

Hamel said Adi is Spirit’s first high school intern who has no ties to the Wichita community.

“We have never had a high school participant from out of the Wichita metro area. The college program we do all the time. We typically draw students from 20 universities, 20 states every year, so this is brand new for us for the high school program,” said Hamel. “It shows how important aerospace is to the local area and how well-known it is.”

Being the “first” does not concern Adi. In fact, it excites him. The high school junior, who is about a month away from earning his pilot’s license, said fear of the unknown shouldn’t stop someone from chasing their dreams no matter how high or how far away from home they may be. He equates his upcoming aerospace adventure in Wichita to the feeling he gets in the cockpit bracing for takeoff.  

“There’s something about pushing the throttle all the way in and feeling the airplane come alive and taking off,” Adi said. “I just love the thrill of it.”



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