Last year I participated in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, as part of an all-female team from my vocational college. It was fun, but we had a hard time with preparation and only one of us won anything. But, even though I didn’t win an event, I thought it was a great experience. I got to meet industry people from all over the world and get a sense of what my new career might look like.

This year I offered to go as a project manager and coach. It turns out that getting 15 people from Seattle to Miami, arranging lodging and travel and helping get them ready for events is a full time job, albeit a short-term one.

We’re here now – in Miami Beach. It’s very sweaty. And decadent. All day and all night people cruise up and down Ocean Drive, playing loud music and revving their loud cars. There’s a little gymnasium area on the beach near our hotel where I’m pretty sure I saw strippers practicing. Hey, more power to them, although you wonder why they’re dancing for free on the beach.

It’s kind of a strange place to hold a trade show and it’s an even stranger place to take a group of vocational students. Everything is a bit sketchy – hotels require up front payment. When we arrived a woman was trying to run a scam in which she accuse the hotel of giving her $10,000 bag away to someone else. They just seemed bored by her. There was a guy in the elevator who had to have us explain how to get off on his floor. We had to explain several times.

But, for all the weirdness it’s mostly going well. Everyone was nervous at first, but they got the hang of things pretty early and now they feel like they’re approaching day two as old pros. It has been fun to see the teams jell and learn to work together.

We won’t know until Thursday whether we won anything, but we had some great scores on Day 1. If you want to see some pictures check out my twitter feed @JenniferLesher.

It’s so much fun that we’re talking about creating a statewide competition for Washington’s aviation maintenance schools. It’s either a great idea or a horrible one, but I there’s only one way to find out for sure.

Posted by lesherjennifer

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