Tag Archives: bridge program

Preparing for a coach operator career

Whenever a coach operator job position opens at Omnitrans, our HR Department receives hundreds of applications. How will you stand out?

Each time an Omnitrans  coach operator position is advertised, our HR Department receives hundreds of applications.  Yet only about 8% make it through the hiring process.

Surprisingly, most are immediately eliminated for one simple reason. They failed to fully complete the application. Others are weeded out during personal interviews for lack of professionalism. 

“Personal appearance, business etiquette and strong interview skills are absolutely critical for success in today’s competitive job market,” points out author and career coach Patricia Dorch.

Bridge Program instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields

That’s where the Bridge Program comes in. The free 5-day workforce development program is facilitated by Dorch and co-instructor Henry Shields, a former Omnitrans Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor.  Together, they introduce job seekers to potential new careers as public transit coach operators. They also prepare participants for the application and interview process, teaching them how to make a great first impression and brand themselves for success.

“Every single day we were challenged,”says Bridge Program graduate Karena Rojas. ” We created portfolios,  covered everything you can think of in the interview process, and learned skills specific to the job of a coach operator. Everyone who graduated the program with me was happy to be a part of it. It boosted everyone’s confidence, so much so that we are all looking harder for jobs and feel surer of ourselves in obtaining one.”

Are you ready for a new career this year? Bridge Program classes are continuing at the Omnitrans San Bernardino office through January. Space is limited. Click here to sign up today.

“I feel like somebody”

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Bridge Program instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Aaron Harper

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

As a regular bus passenger, Aaron Harper had been interested in possibly pursuing a career as a coach operator. So when a friend sent him an email about open coach operator positions at Omnitrans, he decided to apply. To give himself an advantage, he also signed up for the agency’s 5-day Bridge program, which helps people develop professional resume and interview skills and gives them an overview of the transit industry and coach operator duties.

“I really did this for myself,” says Aaron. “The class made me feel like somebody. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and wanted to show everybody that I could do this no matter what my past has been like. There’s also a special somebody that I admire and would like to have in my life. I’d like to show her that I am doing good.”

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Aaron Harper on the second day of Bridge Program classes

Still the 21-year-old struggled with mixed feelings about the class, and he almost quit the first day.

“My first day, I kind of doubted this program,” he admits. “I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I am taking two days off from my job at Goodwill to do this and there’s no guarantee I’ll even get hired. This is just a waste of my time.’ Now I’m glad that I took those two days off. Even if my boss from my other job didn’t understand, I understand. I’m glad I got what I needed, and now I can take the skills with me anywhere.”

Over the past few years, Aaron has been following his dream to be a musician. He sings, raps, and plays the drums. But now he’s decided to take a step back and focus on making a living.

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

“I really wanted to see what else I was good at, so here I am,” Aaron says. “At first it was the money that got my attention. Especially for people my age, there aren’t many ways to make that kind of money. I was thinking that even if I didn’t get to be a bus driver maybe I could do maintenance or something. I came here with an open mind. Whatever they throw at me, I’m just willing to work. I want to do something with myself.”

As part of the final day of class, the students dress up as they would for a job interview. For Aaron, it inspires a feeling of pride and professionalism.

“I like dressing up,” he explains. “I don’t know, it just makes me feel like somebody. When you step in here, it makes you feel like you’re important—like all eyes are on you. And you kind of rise to that, but not in an ego kind of way. You just feel like you’re respected in the business part of your life.”

Graduates of the Bridge Program are universally recognized by regional transit agencies as prime candidates for coach operator positions. At the end of their program, participants receive a certificate of completion they can include with their resumes when applying for a coach operator position.

Aaron with Omnitrans Director of Internal Audit and Workforce Development Committee lead, Dr. Samuel Gibbs

“The certificate means that I put forth the effort to utilize my time to come here,” says Aaron. “It’s basically saying that my role businesswise is important. The way I conduct myself is important. And my dedication is important. I felt like leaving after the first day. I felt it was a waste of my time because it was just a program, not a job. So what’s the point? I’m looking for something right now. Now I feel the class helped me, and I might actually get the job. Who knows? I could get a call next week or weeks from now. As a Bridge Program graduate I know I’ll probably be the first to get looked at before the next man.”

Whether or not he is hired on as a coach operator, Aaron believes the skills he has gained from the program will change the way he approaches his work.

“I would definitely recommend this program to other people. I’m going to go back to my job pretty happy with what I’ve learned and treating customers a little better. Not that I’ve ever treated customers badly, but now my eyes are more open to it. Maybe I’ll be a little more talkative—even explain a little about my experiences over the past week, you know? It could help someone else.”

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

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Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Aaron and his classmates celebrate their Bridge Program graduation

 

Bridge Program graduates on fast track to success

Workforce Development Bridge Program

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

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.

Participants in the Bridge Program tour the Omnitrans bus yard, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

“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.”

Instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Bridge Program participants, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Bridge Program participants

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.”

Bridge Program graduate Reginald Reid, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Bridge Program graduate Reginald Reid

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.”

Necktie demonstration - bridge program

Click here to view more photos from the Bridge Training Program!

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.”

Bridge program graduates, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

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!

– Juno Kughler Carlson

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

Graduation Day - Bridge Program, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

 

Bridge Program opens new opportunities for the unemployed

Henry Shields, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

With so many in California struggling to find employment, those without an educational degree or technical skill are increasingly finding themselves at a disadvantage.

Now Omnitrans is offering a free training program to encourage people to pursue a 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. Each 1-week intensive training program culminates with a job fair where the participants can meet with and submit applications to several different regional transit agencies.

Bridge Program instructor Henry Shields was formerly the Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor for Omnitrans before his retirement in 2011. He believes the program provides a unique opportunity for those who are looking for a lucrative career with long-term job stability.

“Most people never consider a career in transit,” Shields points out frankly. “They aren’t aware of the opportunities that are open to them. Coach operator positions offer paid training, competitive salaries, great benefits and good job security. You don’t have to have a degree or a trade skill. If you have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, then you have the ability to succeed in this field.”

Omnitrans bus, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Shields can vouch for this from his own firsthand experience. When he received his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1990, he was surprised at how difficult it was for him to find a civilian job. As a Master Sergeant he had years of experience as a respected training instructor and recruiter, but without a degree, trade or technical skill no one would consider him for a job. Finally he applied for a coach operator position at Omnitrans and began what became a 21 year career in the transportation industry. Thanks to the tuition reimbursement program Omnitrans offers its employees, he was also able to obtain a college degree in Business Management.

“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” says Shields. “Being able to share the same opportunity with others through the Bridge Program means a lot to me. It has the potential to completely change lives. It also generates public interest in transit as a career path and serves as a valuable recruitment tool for regional agencies.”

Participants in the 1-week Bridge Program will be given a broad overview of the transit industry and the role of the coach operator within the transit system. They will learn about transit maps and schedules, how to prepare a coach for service, how to drive a route, how to deal with difficult people, and how to handle emergencies. They will have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it feels like to drive a coach, thanks to a state-of-the-art virtual reality coach simulator. The participants will also take a short field trip on a regular coach to familiarize themselves with the passenger experience.

“The course is designed to put people at ease and give them the confidence that they can do this,” explains Shields. “It gives them a good orientation to the transit industry and prepares them for the job application process, which can be pretty stringent. Applicants must typically pass an interactive written test, a personal interview, a physical exam, and a background check before even being considered for a coach operator position. The knowledge and skills our participants gain through the Bridge Program gives them a deeper understanding of what’s required of coach operators and better equips them to pursue a career in transit.”

For more information on the Bridge Program please contact Henry.Shields@omnitrans.org

The Bridge Program is a regional transit career opportunity sponsored by the Omnitrans Workforce Development Committee. Members from L to R: Treasury Manager Maurice Mansion, Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor Don Frazier, HR and Safety and Security Director Marjorie Ewing, Director of Internal Audit Services Samuel Gibbs, Operations Director Diane Caldera, HR Specialist Denise Gibson, Bridge Program Assistant Instructor Patricia Dorch, Bridge Program Instructor Henry Shields.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others.

Have a great Omnitrans or sbX story to share? Let us know!