It’s Officially Official!

Yes! The call just came through from BART, my background check and pre-employment physical were good and I was offered the job of Train Controller today! I am e-mailing my resignation today to my now, former employer. While they will not get 2 weeks notice (they deserve none, actually), they will get 8 days.

I start work on Monday, November 6, so they will get 8 days or 7 if I don’t want to work Friday, November 3. I was hoping to take a week off between jobs in order to finalize some work around the house, but I did not want to delay getting in a new hire class.

So what happens now? I have two days of orientation for new hires at the HR offices in downtown Oakland (murder capital of the USA). The third day I will meet at the OCC (Operations Control Center), for, I am guessing an orientation of my new digs. Regardless I am so thrilled, have not been this excited about work since…well, since I started at United 11 years ago. But that did not result in a happy employee.

This time, things will definitely work out better. My inner voice keeps saying, “are you sure?” There is a big difference between the two companies and their financial stability. Not to mention that 56% pay raise I get over my current wages. Along with the many other great features and benefits this job holds, the pay probably put it over the top.

So, I need to gear up for 12 months of training. Yup, I know I have said it before, but I will not be let loose on the train system until I am trained, which is approximately one year, that also includes being trained to operate the trains (15 weeks). So I need to buckle down (didn’t our parents say that) and get ready for lots of homework and study time in order to be the best in our small ‘TC’ class.

*sigh of relief* So, while the hiring process is FINALLY over, things are now just getting started. New people, new opportunities and an all new way of doing things. I am looking forward to getting started now! Thanks to all who passed on their comments!

New Employer. New Outlook.

It was 7 months to the day (Oct 17) that my interest was piqued about the possibility of getting hired by BART. At the time I was introduce to Paula, who is a manager at BART, there were no open positions for Train Controller. These days it seems its not what you know, but who you know that could play into your favor. This time as luck would have it, it played into my hands and was given a great opportunity and possibly a new career. The position for Train Controller was posted on May 12 and my journey began.

Over these last few months, it has not been easy to be patient and play the waiting game. Prior to that I will consider myself lucky I even got an interview, as it seems my resume was conveniently, “lost” when I was informed to call and check on it. I followed this advice and it seems as quickly as it was lost, it was found. See, if you have been following this little soap opera, I had taken two copies of my resume and cover letter with me when I submitted my resume for the job. The HR rep I time/date stamped both copies, giving me back one (a duplicate), just in case something went wrong. As luck would have it, something did go wrong, but in the end my resume was pulled and put into a stack that would allow me the chance to take “the test.”

While not the best student through my schooling years, I was not a bit worried about the test I had to go through as part of the employment selection. I would guess there were some 150 applicants (or more) to take the test. There was nothing really difficult about it, maybe with the exception of the time constraint for the third part, 45 minutes to answer 100 questions. I felt very good as I pushed back and walked out of the testing center, one of only two individuals with less than 5 minutes remaining who finished.

From June 7 until yesterday it was a maddening game of being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but knew that a train could hit you at any minute, derailing you from exiting the other side. The test was the second step in the process, after having my resume pulled in order to take the test. It was just over two weeks later I received a letter from BART in the mail and like Willy Wonka slowing opening that Wonka Bar in search of the ‘Golden Ticket’ I felt the same anticipation. As if opening the envelope or unfolding the letter slower would somehow change the outcome. I was rewarded with a congratulations on passing the examine and being eligible for the next step in the process. But that next step could last up to 12 months, depending on when they would hire new candidates for the job.

As luck would have it, I only had to wait about 3 weeks to receive another envelope with the BART logo on it. While I hesitated to open it, holding it up to the light, I tore it open to see that I had been scheduled for an interview. While I have gone through only three interviews in the past 3 years I am a bit rusty at selling myself and my accomplishments. My resume sold my skills, education and experience, but it would be the verbal interaction with others that would make me or break me an in the past I had been broken. As focused as I was, I felt more prepared for this interview than previous. Not really sure why, maybe I was going in with a confidence that the job was mine to loose, knowing I had a powerful person on my side.

Unlike the previous three months, I received confirmation within a week that I had successfully passed the interview and was placed on a very short list of eligible candidates for open Train Controller positions. This was a great achievement in my eyes, considering the preparation I had gone through, from creating a new, updated resume, tapping my personal resources, including current BART employees and my mentor, Ken. It also helped that I spent time observing the OCC [Operations Control Center] with Paula, reading up on BART procedures, rules and the Train Operators handbook, as well as riding in the cab with my buddy, Jim. I do believe these activities pushed me over the hump, so to speak, and helped me achieve this step.

Things got very quiet for the next few months and while I did not fall out of communication with Paula, I did not want to bother her everyday. One of her e-mails said, “to be patient” and things would work themselves out. The hard part was over, starting May 12 with the posting of the job and ending July 26, receiving a congratulatory e-mail on being a success interview candidate. If that were case, why was this period of waiting so difficult?

I began to think that if it did not happen “soon” it would not happen this year and it would be pushed to 2007. On somewhat of a whim, I sent Paula an e-mail, just to keep in touch and see how things were going and to see if I could come observe in the OCC. What happened the following day, BART came calling looking to verify my references and work history. After playing phone tag and sending e-mails back and forth with the HR rep, my references and work history were verified and I received the job offer, conditional on passing the medical (alcohol/drug screening), fingerprinting and background check. All of which I have to go through to work at the airport, so this is just another small step in the entire process.

While I do not have any further information I am looking forward to a new career, with a new employer and a fresh, new outlook on life. Sure, a 56% pay increase will help, but is more than the money. It is the chance to actually use my experience and skills and make a difference, something that is rarely seen at my current employer. It’s a chance to receive wage increases and potentially move up in a solid organization, unlike where I am now, which sees my position as stagnant, and me on the outside looking it with little chance for advancement. This means I will be a happier person, knowing I have left a bad situation for better on all accounts. That is not to say there will not be bumps along the way that will have me wondering, “was all this worth it?”

I can tell you know, I will not look back and regret the decision I made when I accepted the conditional terms of being hired by BART. My career in aviation has been great for 11 years (more on that in an upcoming post), but it is not the industry it once was, when my father was flying airplanes (now only 7 years removed). Maybe if I were involved in a different facet of work with the airlines things would be different. Although, I still see many individuals unhappy and discouraged at work and the only person who can change that is YOU!

I will consider myself fortunate that I have been successful in achieving what I set out to accomplish on December 31, 2005 when I set my New Year’s resolution of finding a new employer. As I told my wife yesterday, I am on cloud nine and so excited at the prospect of a new job and overall a better way of life.

BART Timeline – How it all happened:

BART Update

As posted on July 26 I received mail from BART stating I was on the eligibility list for the position of Train Controller in the Operations Control Center. This after a few initial weeks of not hearing anything about receiving a test date, the start of the entire process. Since opening that letter nothing has changed. I did talk to my friend at BART and she said there has been no offers made or new hire classes started. As I see it, that’s good.

Supposedly the entire list, which consists of four individuals, will be exhausted in the upcoming 12 months. At least that is how I took her e-mail that was quite straight forward with regards to new positions being filled. So now dubbed, “Mr. Candidate” I am still playing the waiting game hoping that job offer comes before the end of the year. It’s not imperative, but would be nice considering we closing in on the final 4 months of the year and a great holiday gift would be to get the hell out of my current situation.

I should receive more information in the coming week as my friend gets back to work and looks into the current plans for new Train Controllers. In a related note, I got a phone call from a guy who worked in my department and he passed along information he had been offered a position at BART, as a Train Operator. He was a good guy and will make a very competent operator. I am sure one day he will make an even better Train Controller. He told me that he had applied for the position a few weeks prior to the Train Controller position being posted and did not want to jeopardize his chance. I considered applying as a T.O. but you start out working part-time, something I cannot afford at this point in life, even going in knowing that full time is guaranteed inside of 12 months. So we continue to wait…patiently.

Interview: Day of Reckoning

After nearly two and a half months since submitting my resume at BART, I had my three part interview today at 11AM. Now, I have never been a big fan of interviews, on either side, administering or participating in them, I always get nervous and my head is a jumbled mess of thoughts. Up until now everything at BART has been going my way, I guess I could call Paula my “guardian angel” so to speak. All I do is say her name and good things seem to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I am qualified for the position I interviewed for and I know I would make a damn good employee [regardless of current attitude I have at my current job].

I arrived about 60 minutes early, because I always fear something will happen, so I need to give myself plenty of extra time in which to arrive. So I arrived quite early and just hung out, waiting…and waiting…and waiting. I was approached by a well dressed man who asked me if he could help me and what I was doing. He introduced himself and oddly enough he was a manager in the department I am trying to be hired to, so he understood my plight. He did say, “based on how you are dressed, you should get the position.” That was a positive thought that I took with me into the interview.

Once I was inside, there were three individuals who would administer the oral portion of the interview. There was a fourth individual who was an “observer.” The interview was very structured from the greeting to all eight questions including the writing assignment and typing skills test. Now due to the fact that I could be disqualified if I actually go into details, I won’t risk it. You never know who’s eyes will see what I type. Remind me to relate another Internet incident that nearly got me fired back in 1996 from my current employer. If you have spent any time taking interviews then you can figure out the basic line of questioning. A panel of people who want to see if you have what it takes to be a successful candidate.

I breezed through the writing assignment and finished the typing skills test. Hopefully I am not docked points because I did not capitalized any of the characters as they were denoted on the paper I was to follow. Of course all my keystrokes were 100% correct, I had time to check them all over and I did not have any mistakes. Then again, I did not think I would as my typing skills are very strong.

So the last two items I had to do was get them a dependability calender [number of days missed of work] from June, 2005 to June 2006 and god damn, wouldn’t you know I missed 2 or 3 days at the end of May and early June. Three days in the last 11 years! But they do not know that and I have no way of conveying that information to them since they only want 12 months because that truly does not reflect my dependability at all. I am nails when it comes to going to work…all the time. I don’t use sick time if I don’t have to, but under those circumstances I had to. So, hopefully that does not go against me.

Now we play the waiting game again. The list of candidates was short, if indeed that was the full list. There were 5 or 6 total people interviewing today. I don’t know if there were more yesterday or tomorrow. All I know is that I did my best, came prepared, made a good impression and went above and beyond what was needed to be done prior to the interview. I had read numerous manuals relating to the operation. I had spent 7-10 hours observing in their operational control center and spent time observing in the train cab, with a friend of mine who is a train operator. That is more than some outside candidates could even hope for. So keep those fingers crossed for me, I do see the light at the end of tunnel. As I said, hopefully it is the end, which would be the start of a new career and not a train coming to take me out.