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: