Mia Stefanou, ’18, claims to be a nervous flyer, so her decision to intern with a company specializing in aviation seems a little surprising. But Stefanou says that she was excited to complete her Jepson Internship at BLADE, a new company based in Manhattan that touts itself as “the sharpest way to fly.” The internship offered a hands on design and the opportunity to learn about an unfamiliar field.

Stefanou works out of the chic black trailer on West 30th and Westside Highway that serves as the headquarters for BLADE. As a flight operations intern, Stefanou helps to coordinate logistics and customer service.

“I primarily focus on the fixed wing operations in terms of flights, such as routes that are too lengthy for helicopters and therefore require either a piston, turboprop plane, or jet. I am in contact with the operators and pilots, as well as the customers, making sure that everything runs smoothly,” says Stefanou.

The internship has lived up to its promise to be hands on, even offering Stefanou the chance to take a sunset ride over Manhattan in a BLADE helicopter.

Stefanou notes that she has learned about how much backend work goes into making the process of booking a flight as quick and simple as the app promises.

She recalls successfully booking and overseeing her first charter flight: “It was really exciting for me to be able to see the charter go through all the stages — from the very first phone call inquiring about the flight, to contacting operators, finding an appropriate aircraft, and then making sure everything went smoothly on the day of the flight.”

BLADE launched in 2014 with routes between Manhattan and the Hamptons, but has quickly grown and expanded, giving Stefanou a chance to explore and practice leadership in an evolving environment.

“I think that this newness and constantly changing environment can make leadership tricky, but I think that having a diverse group of individuals in leadership positions, who come from different work backgrounds, benefits BLADE and its ability to adapt to new changes,” explains Stefanou.

While she is still deciding what career path to pursue, Stefanou says that these lessons, as well as the skills and the experience she has gained, will be useful.

“I would have never imagined I would be working for an aviation company/app a few years ago, which shows how many different work fields a leadership studies education can be useful in and how many new doors I can open up.”