The Value of a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment

At Southwest Airlines®, we’re passionate about celebrating the diversity of our employees through the unique talents, skills, and abilities they bring. As a people-first company, we’re committed to ensuring employees receive the support they need to succeed in their roles, and we recognize that we’re our strongest when each coheart (what we call fellow employees!) brings their best selves to work.

Last summer, Southwest® introduced the Campus Reach Neurodiversity Internship Program to welcome neurodivergent individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the Southwest Family. The program provides valuable work experience, career coaching, and mentorship to college students with autism.

We’re excited to share the experience of a former intern and his leader. Hear from Joakim K., one of our 2023 summer Interns, about his three months as a Cybersecurity Engineer Intern. With support and allyship from his mentor, Technology Assistant Manager Seth P., Joakim immersed himself in our culture of caring and hands-on projects.

Joakim at our Corporate Campus during his summer internship

What interested you most in the Campus Reach Neurodiversity Internship Program? 

  • Seth: Southwest interns are eager to work on projects, learn, and grow. They bring energy to the team with everything they do.
  • Joakim: The program’s commitment to inclusivity and recognition of the strengths and perspectives that neurodiverse individuals can bring drew me to it. Plus, the chance to learn as much as possible in that supportive environment.

What would you want others to know about your experience?

  • Seth: I walked away with a renewed appreciation for how our interns like Joakim contribute during their time at Southwest. It was a great experience for us, causing us to grow, learn, and adapt!
  • Joakim: I had an inclusive experience. Southwest is a supportive environment where neurodiverse individuals receive opportunities to lead and contribute significantly!

Joakim, what was your biggest takeaway from the internship?

  • Joakim: The value of a diverse and inclusive work environment! It was an enriching and empowering experience. This program is a great model for how companies can foster diversity and inclusion. It also gives access to opportunities in technology that others may not easily be able to achieve.

We’re committed to creating an inclusive environment where all employees feel equipped to succeed in their roles. It takes Every. Single. One. Of. Us. to foster a workplace that works for everyone.

Applications for the 2024 Campus Reach Neurodiversity Internship Program open in January. If you know a college student interested in participating, they can register to attend a virtual information session on Thursday, Jan. 18.

January 18th from 5-6pm CT. 2024 Campus Reach Neurodiversity Internship Information Session. Register in linked image.
View the 2022 Southwest One Report