Graduate diaries: on the buses

Rachel Perkins, a recent graduate in Geography from Murray Edwards College, reveals all regarding her work in the bus industry

I’m from Essex and attended The Sixth Form College, Colchester for A-levels, before starting at the University of Cambridge.

My schooling background has been solely mixed gender, state comprehensive, so coming to Cambridge was a bit of a culture shock! Unlike some students in Cambridge, I have never participated in an internship/research programme and instead held part-time posts in retail and hospitality and catering over the summer vacations. However, my most recent dissertation research, focusing on valuing bus transport in Essex, has formed the building blocks of my interest in working in the bus industry.

I want to make the industry as innovative and future-proof as it can possibly be

I hadn’t really considered working in the bus industry until recently.

The sector is a very niche field and many people get confused as to why I’d be interested in it so much! I was inspired to follow this career path after getting to know two of the bus drivers who drove the bus to Sixth Form, who encouraged me to be vocal about my experiences of using the local service. This soon developed in a research interest for my undergraduate dissertation project, trying to understand what different stakeholders in the bus industry viewed as important in representing passengers and configuring routes.

Contrary to popular belief, the most popular mode of transport is not the car, nor the train, it’s the bus!

But, it is rare to see an MP or government official talk about buses, or, if they do, they mention bad experiences of journeys or how their route has been cut. I want to change this, to make the industry as innovative and future-proof as it can possibly be. What particularly excites me about the industry is the people who use and make the services what they are. I’ve got to know so many wonderful passengers, drivers, councillors and managers through travelling on the bus and researching my dissertation, which has truly ignited my passion for representing those needs in society.

Rachel with her colleagues

This summer, my aim is travel and spend lots of time with friends and family before I start work.

I’m in the process of planning a trip to Barcelona with one of my best friends from home as well as breaks closer to home with my boyfriend and some of my closest friends. In September 2019, I will start my graduate scheme as a Senior Management Trainee (Bus) at Go East Anglia, a local operator close to where I live. I can’t wait to get stuck into the nitty gritty of meeting stakeholders, managers and drivers, timetabling routes and, even learning how to drive a bus! Everyone I’ve met so far has been incredibly friendly and welcoming so I’m really looking forward to getting started.

During my time at Cambridge, the Careers Service has aided my career path through its Quick Query sessions.

In these sessions, I was able to get my CV and cover letter checked over by a member of the Careers Service, who gave me really insightful feedback. I would definitely recommend the Quick Query sessions to anybody needing that little bit of confidence to ace the criteria for graduate schemes, masters programmes and volunteer schemes.

And a closing fun fact…

When I was 6, I broke my arm….in a soft play area. For people who know me, I doubt they’d be surprised.

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