Transportation & Construction Girl returns to RTD: ‘It’s incredible to be seeing all these different potential career opportunities’

Girls in warehouse

Five days can change a life. That’s the idea behind the HOYA Foundation’s Career Week for Girls, in which young women ranging from 13 to 20 years old visit five companies over the course of a work week to engage with women, ask questions and tour work sites. RTD has been involved in the Transportation & Construction Girl initiative since it debuted in 2017, both in serving as a Career Week host site and in supporting the foundation’s Transportation and Construction Girl Day in the fall.

On Monday, five Career Week participants began their day at District Shops with an overview of all that RTD does and offers, detailed by Chief Administrative Officer Leah Riley, Continuous Improvement & Innovation Manager Rebecca Tate and Civil Rights Outreach Specialist Vivian Morales. From there, the group visited the agency’s Sign Shop and learned about mobile technology and maintenance within Bus Operations. After a lunchtime discussion with RTD employees, the young women toured the agency’s Elati facility to learn about light rail maintenance and experience the simulator that operators use for training before they sit in the seat of a real rail cab.

Elati

The HOYA Foundation started the Transportation & Construction Girl initiative to encourage more young women to pursue careers in transportation and construction. RTD wholeheartedly supports this work and endeavors to do all it can to attract more women to the field of public transit. This aim aligns with the agency’s mission, vision, values and strategic priorities.

Over the course of the day, the young women were encouraged to think about using transit if they were not already doing so, and they were reminded of RTD’s 70% youth discount and upcoming Zero Fare for Better Air initiative in August. They noted that they did not know how much work takes place behind the scenes to deliver the service the public experiences. And they learned that RTD is a viable career option as soon as they finish high school, provided they are at least 19 years old, to operate a bus or rail vehicle.

Lunch

“It’s almost like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in lifting the curtain,” Morales said of RTD’s participation in this event. “For them to see there’s so much more – and the idea of working in transit – it’s always kind of cool to see their faces light up when those connections are made.”

Aside from RTD, companies participating in Career Week this year are Encore Electric, Fiore & Sons, Kiewit, Kodiak Building Partners, Holcim, Martin Marietta, OE Construction, Trimble and Wilson & Company.

Rail simulator

A young woman named Thalia, who will soon be a junior at Lakewood High School, took full pages of notes on everything she observed Monday morning at District Shops. She marveled at “the amount of buses that you have, and the amount of technology and the amount of parts, and the warehouse and storage you need for all of these.”

Thalia, who is interested in engineering, said of her visit to RTD, “For the first day and in the first couple hours, it’s incredible to be seeing all these different potential career opportunities.” That’s precisely the intention of this event – to spark new interests by showing young women what’s possible.