Soaring To New Heights

Pete CodellaArticles

In her nearly four years at Boeing, Emma Vanderhoeven has learned valuable skills as a team leader while having tremendous opportunities for professional growth. 

As a senior in high school, Vanderhoeven participated in the Utah Aerospace Pathways (UAP) program, one of several pathway programs sponsored by Talent Ready Utah at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  

The Utah Aerospace Pathways program forms strategic partnerships with aerospace companies to recruit high school students interested in careers in the aviation industry. The innovative program encourages students to gain valuable work experience while in high school. 

“The Utah Aerospace Pathways program allows students to explore potential careers in the aviation industry,” said Kimberlee Carlile, director of Talent Ready Utah. “This stackable credential program is a win-win for all parties. Employers get a workforce eager to learn, and students gain valuable hands-on skills.”

When did you start working with Boeing?
I began the program during my senior year in high school as part of an externship. The UAP externship got me excited and motivated me to find a job in the aviation industry. I started working with Boeing as an assembly mechanic. I have since expanded my role, and I am now team lead mechanic in a control station building the horizontal stabilizer.  

What are your responsibilities as a team lead?
I am the go-between-person on a lot of matters, and I help my team deal with issues that arise. My primary responsibility is filling in where needed, so I have to know my area very well. I’m always checking up on my team members to make sure they have what they need, and they are doing good.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have had tremendous opportunities for personal growth at Boeing. I’ve only been out of high school for just over four years, and I have made significant career steps.

It is also rewarding to see the products we build in action. It’s amazing to think we played a small role in building an airplane that will carry people around the world for 20 plus years. That’s an incredible thing.

What are the most valuable skills you learned?
Since starting at Boeing, my leadership and networking skills are stronger. It was nerve-wracking to begin my role as a team lead, but it has been rewarding to see my confidence and leadership abilities grow. I continue to have several networking opportunities, and my job has opened several doors for me to have my ideas heard by senior management.

What are your future career aspirations?
I would like to be an engineer.  Eventually, I would like to do some job shadowing and internships when I graduate with some engineers at Boeing.

Is it doable working full time while going to school?
Absolutely. It is taking me a bit longer, but that is fine. It’s just not the cookie-cutter way that most people do college. Boeing is helping me out financially with school, and they are a huge supporter. I’m also getting a lot of valuable work experience, which is just as important as school.  

What her supervisor says about Vanderhoeven:
“Emma has done a great job since joining our team a few years ago,” said Michelle Parry, operations manager at Boeing Salt Lake. “She worked hard to grow into a team lead role and has earned opportunities to learn different job functions within manufacturing.  Emma is a very knowledgeable individual who is driven and achieves success in anything she strives for.”