My Internship at the UR – AviAssist Safety Promotion Centre – Rwanda: Ariane Mucyo

new student assistant Ariane

Here is Ariane's story. Want to know more about Ariane or invite her for a job interview at your company or organisation? Click here to access her LinkedIn profile and find out how to contact her.

My role in promoting aviation safety

I’ve never thought of playing my modest role in promoting aviation safety. In 2021, I became a Student Assistant at Africa’s first AviAssist Safety Promotion Centre (ASPC) in Rwanda. It was an opportunity that knocked on my door, and I am so glad I grabbed it with my hands and made full use of it. I study Transportation Engineering at the University of Rwanda (UR). I have been fortunate enough to learn by doing at the ASPC-Rwanda. The ASPC-Rwanda is housed in the School of Engineering at the UR. The centre supports the aviation industry in safety promotion capacity in Rwanda and the region.

The AviAssist Foundation has been leading, building, and supporting safety promotion in Africa’s aviation industry since 1995. It is an independent, non-profit organization. This means it has been a safety resource for the African aviation industry for a quarter of a century.

Opportunities at UR - the ASPC-Rwanda

In 2019, UR and AviAssist partnered to further expand the scope and impact of the ASPC-Rwanda in Rwanda and beyond. The partnership focuses on capacity building in aviation and aerospace engineering skills. For instance, the partnership entails that AviAssist will assist UR in educating aviation-related staff and students through courses and guest lectures. The assistantship of six months to the UR students at the ASPC-Rwanda falls into that section. The student assistantship provides an extraordinary opportunity for students to learn and practice their organizational and leadership skills in a professional setting. Also, it enables a student assistant to learn a lot about aviation safety and they can start building a network in those disciplines.

I was lucky enough to be among fifteen top students in my class to whom my school nominated to AviAssist at the start of the recruitment process. The Foundation was going to recruit among us one student assistant for the ASPC-Rwanda. I sent my letter and curriculum vitae to Felicien Izaturwanaho, Coordinator ASPC-Rwanda via an email and then I waited for the shortlist. Felicien was responsible for the recruitment as it appeared on the job advert. I was very fortunate to be on a shortlist of four out of fifteen candidates. At a glance, I took it for granted that I wouldn’t get shortlisted. I was simply not interested in applying for the vacancy. But when I saw myself on the list of shortlisted candidates, I told myself that I can do well in the interview. So, I started to prepare for my interview. I had enough time to do so. Honestly, I was doing that for the first time and I was nervous. I watched several tutorials on YouTube about how to do a fantastic job interview. Also, I practiced answering a number of common questions asked during interviews.

I felt I was prepared for the interview; I was so scared but I tried to cover it up because I felt I had to do it right. My interviewers were Tom Kok, Director of the AviAssist Foundation, Twagirimana Emmanuel, Coordinator of Transportation Engineering Program, and Felicien. It was an online interview. That is because we were not allowed to do a physical interview because of the coronavirus pandemic. Strangely enough, my computer audio system didn’t work during the Zoom interview. I had to think of another way of doing my interview quickly. I couldn’t afford to miss my interview. Fortunately, I realized that I had Zoom on my phone and I did connect again to Zoom using my telephone and I did the interview. The interviewers were surprised by my problem-solving skills.

ASPC building cropped

The ASPC-Rwanda is based at the College of Science & Technology at the University of Rwanda's Nyarugenge campus.

Hard work paid off. I was the one who grabbed the opportunity. I am the first Student Assistant at the ASPC-Rwanda. My family and friends congratulated me on getting the offer. I started my assistantship in April until September 2021. I worked from the offices of the ASPC-Rwanda once a week. Unfortunately, the offices were far away from my parents’ residence – Muhanga in Southern Rwanda. I had to travel for approximately an hour and a half to do my student assistantship. I was able to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to me to learn about aeronautical knowledge and flight operations skills, which are crucial in airport building among others. I'll also study airport engineering during my bachelor's degree. I was consistently at the top of my assistantship. I’m so glad that I have that experience behind me.

Learning curve

I have learnt a lot in the six months of my assistantship at the ASPC-Rwanda in the corona era. It was a rare opportunity to work at this unique centre for aviation safety promotion. I had to exercise skills like proactiveness, commitment, and excellent time management. I have grown both personally and professionally. For instance, I have learnt to adapt to any changes that come with unforeseen circumstances. My way of working and studying has been almost entirely virtual. Also, I have learnt to be a better organized and more responsible person. The assistantship helps me to move from my comfort zone to practice a number of different things. I am grateful to AviAssist for providing me with this extraordinary learning opportunity through my work at the ASPC-Rwanda. The AviAssist crew is so cool. Everyone would wish to work with the team. You cannot be afraid of expressing yourself - even if you are wrong the team corrects you appropriately rather than laughing at you. That is something that keeps me motivated even now. I am grateful for the mentors I have at this point in time.

All in all, I enjoyed every single second that I spent at the offices of the ASPC-Rwanda. The time I spent with my colleagues inspires me to continue my career in airport engineering. I would like to encourage everyone who is reading this to take a step forward and apply to every opportunity that comes around.  The opportunity could be volunteering, involvement in a university society, or participating in a conference – at least to students like myself.

Ariane Mucyo outside straightened

Want to learn more about aviation safety, like Ariane? One resource to start learning the AviAssist Foundation aviation club playlist on Youtube. Click here to access that playlist