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  • Role: Management Trainee
  • Location: London

Maryam

“I love my job” is always a good reflection to have on your workplace. And that is something I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to say about being part of Transport for London (TfL).

Having started on the London Underground General Management Graduate Scheme (one of the schemes TfL offers) in 2009, I have learnt about the challenges of operating a metro system in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, as well as gaining experience in the operational elements of the business.

The scheme runs over two years and consists of a series of placements around the business, giving you insights and opportunities to deliver work in a range of areas.

How did you get your job at TfL?

The Graduate TfL website outlines all the graduate schemes on offer, and after reading about the various options and getting a flavour of what each one involved, I made my pick – the London Underground General Management scheme. At the time that I applied one of the streams available was Service Development. This would focus on the longer term picture and strategy around how London Underground delivered its vision.

The first step for applying was to fill in the online application. Its main focus was around my motivations for applying. I then carried out a situational judgement online test, where various example situations were explained and I had to say what my action would be in each one. A competency based telephone interview was next and the final stage was an assessment day.

The assessment day had a number of elements including a group exercise, a presentation and an interview. It was quite exhausting as assessment days can often be, but I definitely came out feeling positive.

The application process does change from year to year though, so make sure you ask to find out what the process if you decide to apply.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the fact that the organisation provides an essential service for London that everyone can relate to.

For me it is important to feel like the organisation I work for is useful and adds value to society, as clichéd as that might sound. Another element I love is that it also has very tangible outputs – you can’t get much more real than trains and moving millions of people around London every day.

It is great working with people who are passionate about the organisation and what they do – it is not unusual to meet people with 20 years of service. Before you know it you develop a sometimes unexpected (but positive) fascination with public transport.

Having had placements in the operational environment was also brilliant. I was able to not only develop a solid understanding of what it is involved working on the stations and trains, but also holding genuine responsibility in managing stations on my own and understanding the unique workplace culture. Ticking off ‘driving trains’ from your life to-do list is also very satisfying (whether it was on your to-do list to start off with or not!).

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

Since the graduate scheme consists of a series of three month placements, it can be challenging starting in a new team every few months and developing new relationships and learning new skills that the team specialises in.

However, this does also work very strongly in your favour as you develop a large network throughout the business over the course of the scheme, as well as developing a strong base of skills.

I also found shift work when I was doing my operational placement very difficult as you can end up working very unsociable hours. On the other hand, you do get rest days during the week where you can actually get useful things done, like going shopping without the crowds.

Any advice for the interview process?

As always, prepare as much as possible!

For the telephone interview, make sure you have good examples of things you have done that demonstrate various competencies.

Keep the STAR framework in mind when answering questions – Situation, Task, Action, Results. It is valuable for making sure everything you say is useful and relevant to why it is being asked.

For the assessment day, practice your presentation enough beforehand. It is incredible what a difference it makes having practiced it (out loud to a real/imaginary audience) a few times the night before.

Confidence is key.

But most of all make sure you have a good understanding of TfL and London Underground (if you are applying for a London Underground scheme) and can demonstrate a genuine passion and interest for the organisation. And of course, let your personality shine through.

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