Since early October, a free training program presented by Omnitrans has been encouraging people to bridge from to a new career in public transit. Funded by a Workforce Development Grant, the Bridge Program is a series of classes that introduces participants to the transit industry and teaches them how to apply for and successfully secure jobs as coach operators. The program includes an overview of coach operator duties as well as workplace professionalism and interview skills. At the end of each 5-day intensive training program, participants receive a certificate of completion which they can then bring with them when interviewing with regional transit agencies.
“This certificate indicates to regional transit agencies that the applicant has a basic understanding of coach operator duties and has developed the skills needed to be successful in a professional work environment,” explains Omnitrans Director of Internal Audit Dr. Samuel Gibbs, who heads the workforce development committee. “Bridge Program graduates have an incredible opportunity to pursue a lucrative, long-term transit career with great potential for advancement.”
Many of the Bridge program participants are unemployed job seekers, while others are hoping to transition from their current position to a new career. They are all looking for ways to stand out from the crowd with a potential interviewer.
Shannon Kovitch will soon be retiring from the County of San Bernardino and would like to start a new career. He was surprised at how extensive the training was on just the first day and says he will use it to change the way he approaches potential jobs. “Just the portion on the resume—I realize now I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve been using online examples and just submitting a generic resume with my application. The way Ms. Patricia formats the resume, the addition of a cover letter and certificates, and how everything is positioned within your portfolio is all new information for me.”
Student Reginald Reid agrees. “I’ve been going to school and working several side jobs. I was looking for a good career opportunity that I could qualify for. The first day I walked into class I was blown away by the information the instructors provided. I actually felt a little childish when they pointed out all the different ways you can sell yourself for a position, because it made such perfect sense. Now I know what I can say to help seal the deal during an interview.”
Reginald was also impressed by how extensive the duties of a coach operator are. “I was very surprised,” he admits. “It’s interesting. There’s a lot more to it than just driving a bus.”
“I’m excited that we are introducing great new people to the industry,” says Omnitrans Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor and Workforce Development Committee Member Don Frazier. “I have worked in transit for almost forty years, and it’s been wonderful career for me. It’s going to add a lot to your life personally and economically, and you’re providing a viable service for the community. It’s a great opportunity for anybody to get into the Bridge Program.”
So far, two classes have graduated the Bridge Program, and already there have been several successes:
Theresa Turner was excited to report that she was hired by a paratransit agency after she applied the “seal the deal” technique during her job interview.
Jaswant Singh told us that, thanks to the coach operator skills overviews presented in the course, he aced his test with LA Metro and is scheduled for an interview.
Haskell Ross credits the interview techniques he learned during the program in helping him land a job with a construction company. He was told that he made a great first impression!
The Bridge Program will run through the end of December, and a limited number of spots are still available.
- Juno Kughler Carlson