Soaring to New Heights

December 16, 2011 | Borough of Manhattan Community College

Soaring to New Heights

Every work day is different for Business Administration major Lina Koutaich, whose job is—literally—out of this world.

Koutaich, who spent her teen years in Venezuela and is bilingual, is a flight attendant for Continental Airlines.

She attends BMCC Mondays and Wednesday and usually flies Thursdays through Sundays. Her base is Newark Liberty Airport, the hub for Continental.

“I generally fly about one to four segments per day, but on average three,” explains Koutaich, whose work route is the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

On-air ephiphany
About five years ago, after completing a graphic design program at a technical institute, Koutaich had an epiphany.

“I needed a job with more human interaction,” she recalls. “One day, I was talking about my career plans to my brother and he suggested I become a flight attendant. So, I did my research, and after going through the training process, voila! I became one.”

She enjoys her job so much she cannot believe “how fast these last five year have flown by!” Pun intended, of course.

Adding college to the mix
The daughter of entrepreneurs, Koutaich’s next step was obtaining a business degree. Her job as a flight attendant already required multi-tasking, so why not add college into the mix?

“I liked that BMCC is in the heart of Manhattan and offers amazing opportunities for students,” she says. “I constantly hear about various events and internships.”

She enrolled in the fall of 2010 and is currently an honors student and a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

“My job has taught me there is no reward without sacrifice, which inspired me to pull school along with it and also take advantage of the perks of my job,” she explains.

Koutaich’s job perks include meeting people from all over the world, seeing new cities, and sharpening her business acumen.

“As a flight attendant, I have learned so much about human interactions, different cultures, demographics, expectations from customers and problem solving—since I am the only flight attendant aboard the 50 EMB regional jet,” she explains. “These skills can be utilized in other aspects of the business world.”

Koutaich further explains that flight attendants are trained to emphasize safety with respect and care. “We make sure that travelers arrive at their destinations as safe as possible.”

The importance of speech class
Even though her job requires frequent interaction with others, Koutaich found her BMCC speech class one of the most invaluable.

“I’m frequently collaborating with others, and over time it becomes easier and easier to talk in front of many people,” says Koutaich. “Nonetheless, Professor Valerie Small’s speech class helped me become more specific when speaking, and less redundant.”

Koutaich is also a member of BMCC’s Travel and Tourism Club. “I like that I’m able to contribute as somewhat of an insider, since I am exposed to hotels, cities, airlines, airports and travel policies.”

During her travel downtime at airports and hotels, Koutaich can be found studying. “I always carry my books with me,” she says.

However, like all jobs, Koutaich has faced a few challenges, “among them having to move several times across the country for work,” she explains, making it hard sometimes to spend extra time with family and friends.

“Don’t forget about balancing your life with entertainment, friends and family because that moral support fuels your fire,” she reminds her classmates—and herself.

Next steps
After she graduates from BMCC, Koutaich hopes to attend Baruch College as an International Business major.

“I would like to work in marketing for companies like Trader Joes, Whole Foods Market or Patagonia,” she says.