People from aviation: Maria Valeria Tofan - cabin crew
We continue the project "People from aviation" with a new interview. Below you can read about Maria Valeria Tofan - cabin crew at an airline in the Middle East.
A new week, a new interview within the project ”People in aviation". I talked to Mary, an ambitious young woman eager to conquer the world.
Maria is from my hometown, one more reason to be proud of this interview. She told us a little about her career path, about her future plans, what it means to be an on-board companion to a premium company in the Middle East. But more I let you read in the long interview below!
Maria Valeria Tofan - cabin crew
To get acquainted! Are we talking to?
Maria Valeria Tofan. "But you can call me Mary" where it's easier :))!
Where did your passion for aviation come from and how did you decide to enter the field?
I can't say I was passionate about aviation. Obviously, at one point I saw those gorgeous movies with the Pan Am stewards and I was impressed, but the aviation and flight attendant job has changed a lot since then.
The decision to apply for a stewardess job was made on a January day in 2012. Looking at the pictures of Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, which were posted by a former college colleague, I decided to give it a try.
I had just given up my job, moved to a new country, and it was cold outside. Bondi Beach seemed like the perfect option, so I began to wonder how she got there and what I had to do to keep track of her.
So, Bondi Beach is to blame!)
What does your job involve and how much of an applicant is it?
The flight attendant job involves a lot of physical and mental energy. It is more than a job, it is a lifestyle. I know it seems simple and trendy, but it's not.
The responsibilities are divided into categories: Safety, Security, Medical and Customer Relations. At the basic level, we need to know the specific systems of the type of aircraft we operate, the company procedures and the destination procedures.
Then how to provide medical assistance under various conditions (including birth or death), how to deliver a 5 star service and respond to the specific needs of each passenger. In addition to the preparation and delivery of products.
Our knowledge in the field is tested and refreshed every year. Before each flight, we repeat the procedures and must answer a question related to safety, security, medical or the type of aircraft operated at that time.
The team is made up of 16 up to 26 people, working in different degrees and functions, coming from different countries and cultures.
It's a wonderful thing, but it can be a challenge at times. I think this teaches us to be flexible and understanding, to "read" people and form superficial, yet functional, connections almost instantly.
After all, we depend on each other and function as a clock mechanism during the flight. All wheels must work together.
I know you don't have a fixed schedule. How do you divide yourself between work, private life and family life?
Our work program proves to be a curse and a blessing at the same time. I can enjoy a cocktail on the beach in Thailand at happy hour, while people from other jobs are in the office. But I do work when others sleep or unwrap Christmas presents.
I can have 4 days off in the middle of the week, but also stay awake over 24 hours for a flight. Everything is good and less good :)).
After more than 5 years and a roller coaster of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, I learned how important it is to balance all the components, to take care of the body and mind with priority.
The job I practice is very demanding physically and mentally. I had to adopt a healthier lifestyle, prioritizing rest to allow the body to recover and balance hormone production.
I learned to eat healthy in order to have enough energy in the long run and to find an exercise routine that is easily accessible wherever I am.
The job gives me all the benefits to enjoy myself, so I have to be prepared and give 100% in this activity.
As for the family, mine is divided between Ireland, Italy and Romania. As you can probably imagine, just practicing this craft allows me to see it quite often. Maybe more often than they see each other.
I am absent for Christmas, birthdays or other important family events, but I have the great advantage of seeing my family at least once a month.
There are short visits, 24 hours, but I enjoy it and it's a holiday every time. I love them immensely and I am grateful that I can see them so often and get paid while doing so.
In a job with few constant elements, the family will always be a pillar of happiness and balance, that is my conclusion.
My private life is pretty private. I have some good friends, who have seen me at the highest and lowest points of my existence. I share with them an unconditional and mutual, almost brotherly affection. I honestly don't know what I would do without them :))
On the other hand, when it comes to relationships, from my experience, it's much easier to build and maintain a couple relationship when living on the same time and space pattern.
Practicing this profession, we have many benefits, but we face many more challenges than an ordinary couple.
On a more amusing note, contrary to popular opinion, we do not have a boyfriend in every destination. We prefer to sleep and visit during breaks. This job offers us enough variables that we do not look for diversity in the amorous field :)).
What was your professional career in aviation?
The professional aviation path is also dictated by the dynamics of the market and the airline for which you operate.
In my case, the progress was slowed down slightly due to a medical incident, which prevented me from flying for almost 9 months. During this time, I had the opportunity and time to learn many things.
I am currently in charge of Business Class, which would be the second step in the career of board companion. From here you can advance to First Class or cabin chief. I had the opportunity to test them both and I can say that they are extremely pleasant challenges.
What are your future professional plans? Do you want to stay in aviation or pursue another job?
As much as I love the people and the job I practice now, in the future I wish for a quiet life, with the family as a scepter. This also implies a career change. I do not exclude the field of aviation, but certainly not from the same position.
In pursuit of personal balance, I spent a lot of time studying the various methods of having a healthy life, I studied the neuroscience and the psychology of happiness and productivity, from meditation to the impact of the immediate environment.
Now I take an interior design course and focus on studying the sustainability of natural materials and the positive impact of a proper home, especially as life becomes more dynamic and hectic outside.
In your job I suspect there are no monotonous days. Can you tell us how a day at work is going? Have you had ups and downs, pleasant situations and less pleasant ones?
Working as a flight attendant, I have few monotonous moments. The job itself is very repetitive and limited in diversity, but given that we fly 95% of days with new people in the crew and on board, this manages to compensate.
An ordinary day can start at any time of day (and night), literally at any hour. And a flight can take from 40 minutes to 17 hours, so rest planning becomes the most important challenge!
Normally the alarm is set about 4 hours before takeoff and I do not deny that the "snooze" button is pressed at least 3 times until I get out of bed.
I have to be at the headquarters with 2 hours before, so I give myself an hour and 30 minutes for showering, makeup, coffee and possibly other stuff.
We have transport from home to headquarters and return. I think that is the biggest advantage, especially when the traffic becomes chaotic or when you are extremely tired after a longer flight. (In second place would be the free food on board :)))
In the 30-35 minutes spent on the road I review flight information, check with colleagues I work with, check my messages, or relax.
Once I get to the office, I scan my ID card, pass the security check and head to the briefing room. Here I will meet my cabin colleagues and pilots.
Our knowledge is tested and preparation is made for the flight (specific procedures, challenges that can be encountered during the flight, type of passengers and interesting things to the destination).
Then we head to the plane to do the safety and security checks, and then to greet our guests on board, always with a welcoming smile.
From here the routine intervenes: each assumes the respective role of the operating position and we operate standard until landing. After many years of experience, I could say that we do things instinctively ...
Assuming it is a longer flight, we will stay at the destination 24 hours. The hotel room has become our second home. So it's easy for me to give a note of accommodation after the first few minutes. I have all become small experts in accommodation types.
Following is the planning of rest and activities for that day: shopping, visits to tourist points, meetings with friends or from the respective places, spa, little work on projects adjacent to the job or rest and relaxation at the hotel.
The best advice about time at the destination is to listen to your body and give it what it needs!
What advice do you have for those who want to pursue a career in aviation, especially in your field of activity?
The first tip would be to prepare for the interview and be aware of what follows. We live a life with many elements of 5 stars (shopping in New York, luxury hotels, resorts in the most exotic places and a world at our feet, good salaries, a house in the most dynamic city).
But you need to be aware at every step that it is a life of loan, which lasts as long as you are prepared to pay the price and be ok with it: sleepless nights, missed family events, stressful situations and chronic fatigue.
I recommend anyone to do this for a period, to enjoy as much experience as possible and to take exactly what they need: money, freedom, exposure, adrenaline, adventure, reinvention.
It's an experience that reshapes you as a person. As Albert Einstein put it, "A mind that has been enlarged by new experiences will never be able to return to its original dimensions."
If you have reflected on the above and the answer is YES, then congratulations and welcome on board!
Here are some basics for a successful application:
- Decide for which airline you would like to apply, taking into account the company's requirements and benefits (location, salary package, transfers, etc.).
- Watch the recruitment events and mentally prepare for the interview (to present yourself as the right person for the job, not the best person in the world: sociability and flexibility are the key points. You have to be passionate about the job and flexible when it comes to it. of the sacrifices it implies.
- Arm yourself with patience and optimism! Between the final interview and the day of employment you will have to wait for varying periods of time, maybe even months, depending on market requirements. Don't give up your existing job until you have the final confirmation!
- Do not give up the idea if you have not received a positive response since the first attempt! Most of the colleagues I work with have applied multiple times until they have received a positive response.
The job itself is an extraordinary adventure, with moments of sacrifice, but also with incredible benefits. If you really want a job in the field, patience and perseverance are the keys to success!
Maria, we wish you clear skies and flights as beautiful as possible. Great success with future plans!
If you liked this interview, like and share to read your friends too. You may have people who are passionate about airplanes, flights, but do not have the courage to pursue a career in the field. "Aviation people" for inspiration.