This story appeared as a sidebar in the print version of a longer story, "Workforce Development: Who Will Run Transit Tomorrow?"
Two of APTA’s Early Career Program participants discuss their experiences with transit and what the industry needs to do to replenish its workforce and draw young talent to its ranks.
Pierre Holloman, principal planner, transit and regional,
City of Alexandria, Va.
His story: Initially interested in foreign affairs, Holloman interned with the U.S. Department of State for about four years and took classes in Eastern European and Eastern Studies. Then, 9/11 changed his outlook, and he considered other careers. He realized that in transit he had the opportunity to work with different communities and saw how just adding a sidewalk or bus route can improve the community.
Early Career Program experience: “It has opened my eyes to many different things in transit. It’s helping me go with my gut and say ‘This is something that I really wanted to do.’ It has been really helpful [to] interact with individuals from other agencies and see that many people have the same mindset that I do.”
What a transit career offers him: “Public transportation affects economic development, improves quality of life and creates pride in communities. When people are able to get to locations through public transit, they can see that having choices besides driving and walking is a great benefit. It makes me feel good to know that I am helping someone with everyday life decisions.”
Drawing more young talent to the ranks: “The transit industry needs to adapt to and understand the millennials and Generation Z. [With] smartphones, and tablets, you have the mobile office; you really don’t have to be there.
Decision-makers in the industry also need to understand the value of a person’s time. We talked in [the program] about work/life balance. A lot of people don’t understand that [time] can be offered as incentive. It’s not always about pay.
Decision-makers need to show that transit plays a significant role in the development of sustainable communities, jobs and future growth.”
Caroline Laurin, manager, media relations,
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro)
Her story: Laurin worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and got a job in Washington, D.C. to cover the 2008 presidential election. She had planned to eventually go back to Toronto, but realized there wasn’t much room for growth in her bureau.
After living in Washington, D.C. for about four years, she had grown to love Metro, she says, taking it to work every day. In 2012, she applied for a media relations manager position and got the job.
Early Career Program experience: “Transformative. I went from being somebody who was doing media relations for a transit agency to somebody who really became fascinated by transit. I think I’m a much better employee as a result. It opened my eyes to a lot of different areas within the transit world that I had not been familiar with before.
Another benefit is that the inaugural class members became friends and great resources for each other.”
What a transit career offers her: “It makes me excited to go to work every day in a way that I never had with my previous job. There’s something about delivering a service that the public needs and being able to help people get to work and where they need to go every day that I find very fulfilling.”
Drawing more young talent to the ranks: “The transit industry needs to start reaching out to students at a younger age. Many students and young professionals take transit every day, but they don’t think of it as a place to work.”