From the Cockpit - Alumni Profile Jessika Chong

Explore the inspiring journey of a UNSW Aviation graduate who propelled by the program's stellar reputation, secured a First Officer role with QantasLink. Now a Captain on the Dash 8-400, she emphasizes the significance of persistence, mentorship, and early exposure in shaping a successful career.

Jessika Chong Profile Photo

What appealed to you about UNSW and your degree?

What appealed to me about UNSW was the great reputation it had among the aviation industry. The flying school at Bankstown teaches their students to an incredibly high standard and has a great track record of students that have become successful in their piloting careers.

Additionally, to fly through UNSW allowed me to obtain a degree along with all my flying qualifications. In particular, the Graduate Diploma Program in Flying appealed to me as the financial aspect allowed me put a large percentage of my flying fees on HECS aswell as also obtaining a Bachelor in Aviation Management if I ever wanted to pursue a career in the non flying side of aviation.

I was lucky enough to graduate from UNSW whilst they had what was called back then the QantasLinK UNSW Student Approved Program, which I undertook and landed my first pilot job as a First Officer with QantasLink.

What is the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?

Most valuable thing I took away from my time at UNSW was understanding the importance of persistence and hard work. Studying at UNSW allowed me to build a high standard of work ethic and professionalism that I could take along with me throughout my career.Additionally, I made a lot of great friends and met a lot of people in the industry that mentored and provided guidance throughout my aviation journey that I have found invaluable.

Where has your career taken you?

Recently this year I became a Captain on the Dash 8 400 Aeroplane with QantasLink, previously on the same aircraft a a First Officer for 5 years. Working at QantasLink has allowed me to fly between major and regional airports around the East Coast of Australia, experiencing some flying out of various bases including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. I have absolutely loved my time as a commercial pilot and this year topped it off when I gained my first command position.

What innovations do you think the industry needs?

I think it would be great if the industry could provide more opportunities for younger people to experience the aviation workplace whether that be through work experiences, information sessions, more mentors etc. I think providing this exposure to people early on could encourage a larger group of aspiring pilots by providing more familiarity and showing its achievable and within reach.

What would your advice be for those currently studying or considering the study of Aviation at UNSW?

Studying Aviation at UNSW was the best choice I made as it landed me my first pilot job which I‘be been so grateful for. Additionally, the university provided me with great connections and mentors that have helped me to get where I am today. I would highly recommend gaining flying qualifications through an aviation degree as it shows a certain amount of dedication, particularly UNSW due to their well regarded reputation through the industry.

My final advice would be is that if you are passionate in aviation, then persevere and work hard because it will all be worth it in the end. You get the best views, work with amazing people, travel to so many new places and you get to fly aeroplanes!