Life achievement: becoming a cabin crew!

Interview by Nicoleta Gherman, Trainer and Founder

Whatever the airline you are working for is not always easy to become a cabin crew especially when there is less information about the cabin crew career in a different part of the world. Shirley Naing, a 24 years old stewardess born in Lashio, a city in Northern Myanmar was kind to give us an interview regarding flight attendants life in Myanmar. After graduating from Mandalay Distance University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Shirley, a Myanmar Chinese girl who can speak three languages, after working as an accountant managed to get the job as a flight attendant in Myanmar National Airline.

What motivated you to become a cabin crew?

From the bottom of my heart, I knew I had always wanted to travel and see the world. People simply know me as a happy person because I always try to see the positive side of things. I always try to keep myself optimistic and ensure that the positivity spreads to people around me. I enjoy seeing different scenery and meeting different people from all over the world, having such an appreciation for diversity and an interest in learning differing and common values among people. One day, I saw this cabin crew job advertisement through the website of Myanmar National Airlines and decided to give a shot at the career because I believed it would complement my ambitions. So, I went to the capital, Yangon to apply for the job. After three rounds of challenging interviews and my consistent performance in proving myself a worthy candidate for the airline, I was offered the job as a cabin attendant in February 2017.

What do you think is the greatest achievement of your life till now?

I would say my greatest achievement so far in my life is becoming a cabin crew member. Opportunities to become cabin crew members at airlines in Myanmar are rather hard to come as a huge number of people always apply for the job whenever there is a recruitment campaign. Out of nearly 1000 applicants, only a handful of people are chosen to fill up vacancies. Making through such a tough competition was really something to be proud of for me. Moreover, it paved the way to fulfill my wishes to travel and learn new experiences from different people and different places. I feel really honored to be part of the Myanmar flag-carrier and the national airline of the country.

Which are the steps in order to pass a cabin crew interview in your opinion?

First, I read about the airline’s profile and responsibilities of the cabin crew job on the Internet. I sought advice from various friends who had applied for jobs in related fields such as customer service and aviation on how to prepare for the interview and how to make my CV stand out during the initial screening process. From my own experience, I have learned that in order to pass a cabin crew interview, aspiring candidates need to, firstly, tune their mindsets to be positive, resolute, caring towards others, understanding to diversity, and prepared to work in a team environment; secondly, they ought to build up their English competency and communication skills; thirdly, they should accumulate some experience in customer service and hospitality; lastly, the job nature and the responsibilities of cabin crew should be studied, and advice from current and ex-crew should be taken on what to prepare for the interview. After taking those steps in preparation, they will need to show through all stages of the interview – written exam, group activities and one-to-one Q&A session – that they are confident, genuine, and equipped with a skill-set to become a cabin crew member who can be relied on for representing the airline as a brand ambassador.

How long were you trained for and can you tell us some of the qualities that a professional flight attendant should have?

My training lasted for about 6 weeks all in all. In addition to great interpersonal skills and a big heart to care for others, professional flight attendants have to be able to work under stressful circumstances with an ability to adapt to any changes to the status quo.

Can you describe for our readers your experience as Myanmar Airline cabin crew?

Working as a member of the cabin crew team has been quite fulfilling for me both personally and professionally. On a personal level, I have been able to fulfill my wishes to explore different places and learn diverse customs and traditions of people from near and far. On a professional level, I have received efficient safety and service training that has enabled me to work effectively to achieve a successful flight using whatever resources available on board.

Which types of flights and aircrafts are you operating?

At the moment, I operate both short- and medium-haul domestic flights on ATR 72-600 aircraft covering a wide network of destinations that span the entire country. During each flight we, the cabin attendants are offering safety and very good customer service, fulfilling customers’ needs beyond expectation in such a way that customers receive the most pleasant experiences throughout their encounter with the service provider.

We know there are some benefits of a cabin crew, job. Which one attracts you more: seeing the world for free or the financial part?

The excitement of traveling to different places and the joy of meeting different people for countless exchanges of knowledge and experiences through interaction are rewarding enough for me to love the cabin crew job. I would agree with the perception that unlike many other professions, cabin crew get paid to travel and explore.

Any good memories to share with us?

This job is unique for me. Every day I get up excited to go to work. Every flight is different; people I work with are never the same, customers I look after are from all walks of life with interestingly varied backgrounds. Because of this job, I feel my life is pleasantly different and full of excitement to learn something new every day.

If I have to share a good memory as crew member, it would be this simple yet pleasing experience I had with an elderly customer on my first flight after observation flights. There was this elderly lady seated in an aisle seat. Although there was good legroom, she seemed to be struggling to put socks on her feet. I went to her to as soon as I noticed her difficulty and offered to put the socks on for her. After that, I gave a blanket to cover the legs in case she still felt cold. In response to my kind act, the lady gave me a long blessing of her good wishes. That incident is very memorable for me because ever since then, I have become happier, healthier, and luckier in life as if I am being looked after all the time by a guardian angel. It is truly amazing.

What would you advise the young generation who would like to become a flight attendant?

I would advise those who want to become flight attendants to develop over time both the attitude and aptitude necessary for the job such as a positive mindset, a genuine desire to care for others, sensitivity to cultural differences, adaptability to changing situations, ability to work with others, good interpersonal skills, linguistic abilities especially in English, and some work experience in service and hospitality. The preparation process takes time that it should be planned properly and started well before applying for the job. At the same time, guidance from people in the aviation industry should be sought to learn more about the real challenges and rewards that come together with the job.