Published in the July/August 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Michael Ramirez, Senior Director for Human Resources Operations, Human Resources, Diversity Initiatives, and Labor Administration for Amtrak, knows all about being a stranger in a strange land. He served in Honduras in the Peace Corps for several years in the early 1980’s.
“Soldiers face hostile environments all the time, facing down dangers as a team,” Ramirez said. “Their challenges are great, and they carry that accomplishment with them into the civilian workplace. That attitude, as well as their passion to complete the mission, is valuable to employers.”
As the nation’s intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak has 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces. Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak is also the operator of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and four commuter rail agencies.
During Amtrak’s 2010 fiscal year (October 2009-September 2010), it carried more than 28.7 million passengers, the largest annual total in its history. An average of more than 78,000 passengers per day ride Amtrak trains, and over 20,000 men and women work for Amtrak. It is the nation’s only high-speed intercity passenger rail provider, operating nearly 60 percent of its trains at top speeds in excess of 90 mph.
Ramirez said Amtrak is looking to hire in all departments and all over the country. He noted three main areas where the organization is looking for people: transportation, mechanical, and engineering. Transportation covers everything from ticket agents and station personnel to other public positions like conductors. Mechanical covers those positions that help maintain the trains as well as refurbish trains needing repair. Openings in this area include mechanics and welders. Engineering covers such tasks as maintaining tracks, bridges, and tunnels. Civil and electric engineers – as well as many other positions – should consider looking for positions there.
“That’s one area – engineering – where we hire a lot of people from the military,” Ramirez said. He also pointed out that Amtrak has needs beyond those that touch the trains. There are openings in finance, information technology, human resources, police and security, and logistics. “We are just like any other American company,” he said. “We have needs in all departments.”
Ramirez said Amtrak likes to hire veterans because the organization knows what it is getting.“American military men and women set high standards of excellence,” he said. “They have already been developed professionally and have seen dangers most of us won’t face. They are good at following through with instructions, and seem to excel in a structured environment. They are detail-oriented, always look sharp, and can work well on a team or by themselves. They are ideal employees.”