Success for Jess - our new rising star!
Jess Cai’s determination saw her go from a Prince’s Trust member to a London Northwestern Railway employee.
2020 has surely been a hard year for us all, and it has especially had an impact on employment. At London Northwestern Railway, we are committed to helping young people get into work which is why we have joined up with the Prince’s Trust’s programme to help young people gain vital skills and experience that are important in a workplace.
Throughout two weeks of the year, we offer work experience to Prince’s Trust members through the ‘Get into Transport’ scheme. This scheme invites thirteen Trust volunteers to work in different departments and learn more about what a career in the railway could look like.
We caught up with former Prince’s Trust member, now turned London Northwestern Railway’s new rising star, Jess Cai, on her experience with the Trust and how her belief and determination landed her a role in our railway family.
Why did you join the project?
I signed up to the Prince’s Trust’s Short Programme ‘Get into Transport’ with West Midlands Trains (operator of London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway) as it was completely new and different to me, and something I had never considered before. It was also a sector which was perceived to be a male-dominated industry, but I have now realised that things are changing and the railway is becoming more diverse and inclusive which is something I want to be part of.
I’m excited that I have had the opportunity in my current role to develop Equality, Diversity and Inclusion e-learning modules that are being provided to colleagues across our business, which I think is a step in helping to make the railway more inclusive.
The programme was advertised as an experience to showcase the different roles available within the railway - ranging from Revenue Protection to Integrated Transport. I was especially interested in the inner workings of the company and how the ‘Head Office’ functions work to deliver train services to the public.
What did you do in your work experience?
My main tasks included creating, and publishing The Branch (internal e-newsletter), and coming up with innovative methods to communicate the content, such as video editing and graphic design. I managed to succeed in these tasks with the support of my Manager.
What help did you receive during your work experience?
My direct manager at the time, Simi Chopra (Communications Manager) was very helpful in transitioning me into the Internal Communications team. Simi was very open in teaching me how to deal with my time management when last-minute changes occur and taught me to stay positive when things get difficult. She made my experience incredibly enjoyable and rewarding with her determination and strive to get the job done.
What did you learn?
Over the course of the project, the company helped me improve my time management skills. Although there were no real barriers, one area I did need to get used to quickly was working in a fast-paced environment where timing is key. For example, I needed to ensure that I delivered the Branch e-newsletter on time for staff to be kept up to date, quickly and effectively.
I also developed my communication skills, working closely with various teams and departments to collect information that I needed to include in The Branch. It really helped my understanding of railway functions as I got to know multiple different stakeholders.
What impact has this had on your life?
The project had a huge impact on my life, I gained more confidence in my abilities, developing my self-awareness to help highlight my strengths and weaknesses.
After completing the programme, I was offered a fixed-term contract in Customer Relations as a Social Media Advisor, managing social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter. My time-management skills certainly came into action as I needed to deliver accurate responses and correct messaging within a timely manner to help passengers stay up to date. Since then, I have now moved job roles within the company and am now working as a Learning and Development Assistant.
What advice would you give to other young people who are struggling to find employment?
I think starting out in the workplace can be incredibly scary, but my advice would be to believe in yourself, work hard, and know that there is support out there like the Prince’s Trust - who dedicate their unique courses to help young people get into work. You just have to be brave and take the first step. Who knows where the road ahead leads to?
Here is how you can get involved…
Whether you are dreaming of starting a new business, whether you are searching for your next career path, or whether you want to develop your skills and boost your confidence, the Prince’s Trust’s programmes can help you take the next step to reach your goals and ambitions.