Posted On: June 28, 2019
by Annie Donnell and Dylan Farmer
Today, DREAM BIG students continued their journey of learning by hopping on a new route and going to BiState Development Agency. Students had an opportunity to visit the BiState facility on Ewing Avenue, which completes maintenance for trains and buses. Metro employees gave a presentation on the Metro Transit System. On an average weekday, 126,931 passengers use the transit system which includes metro buses, trains, and call-a-ride.
On-time performance is one of the most important priorities at Metro. Riders get to places on time 98.2 percent of the time. Students learned the track goes 46 miles, and the Metro Transit System has been in St. Louis for 26 years. Metro runs 21 hours a day, and the last three hours of the day are reserved for maintenance.
Students attentively listened as they learned about how trains have automatic protective systems which were designed to help regulate the speed of trains and make sure they run safely with the help of operators. Several jobs are available at BiState, including but not limited to: technicians, engineers, customer service operators, security operators, administrative jobs, bus operators, train operators, maintenance, control center personnel, track maintainers, supervisors, marketers, procurement, electricians, and even chefs!
Students’ learnings focused on track department. There are 100 miles of track and fourteen employees that work in this department. They help maintain the track, do inspections of 94 miles of track each week, and make sure the track is smooth for all trains to travel. The tracks are made out of wood and concrete ties. The track department also helps with switching trains on tracks by moving rails, an activity they demonstrated to the DREAM BIG students by having them push carts on train tracks. According to Craig, it was “ The coolest thing I saw today.”
Students then went on a tour of the control center. Students explored and saw the process for dispatchers, and how people watch what happens all day on the metro. Cameras are at all 38 stations, and employees staffed in the call center communicate via radio and telephone with personnel on the ground at the stations.
Students walked through the workshop where maintenance is completed and trains go through the carwash. Students learned all trains get washed every day. Students also had the opportunity to sit in a Metro car and experience what it is like sitting in a train car. Students excitedly pressed the horn, and all enjoyed the tour of the facility. James expressed, “The coolest thing I’ve seen today is the inside of the car because I’ve never been inside a MetroLink before, and how weather and the tiniest things can have a big impact on the tracks.”
Next, Starkloff led programming on resumes, cover letters, job search/application process, interviewing for a job, and budgeting. Three major tips mentioned include: to remember you cannot tell everything about yourself on the documents, be prepared when talking to recruiters, and continue to update resumes and cover letters constantly. Students had time to practice drafting resumes highlighting education, experience, and skills.
Students learned the importance of networking and picked three networking opportunities they would like to start participating in such as going to social gatherings, requesting informational interviews, and picking classes that fit with job interest. Students also learned about interviewing. The staff discussed how researching companies prior to interviewing is important to know more about the company and the prospective job. Taking notes while interviewing helps as well. It is always important to be professional and authentic.
By visiting Bistate, students gained multiple routes and job opportunities to consider.