Hi everyone! I’m Chelsey, a 3rd-year Business Economics student, currently on placement at Network Rail, based in Manchester Piccadilly station. I started placement on the 9th September 2019 and it has been a major learning curve. I’m elated to be a digital content ambassador once again, to share my placement journey with each of you!
Six months later…
At the beginning of March, I reached the halfway mark of my placement year. It’s shocking how much you can learn and experience in just six months. The knowledge one can grasp is endless, but what’s most amazing is the ability to make lasting connections with incredible people.
Over the past six months, I've worked with Station Management on various tasks and projects. With guidance from my line manager and mentor, I’ve set different objectives for myself, allowing me to expand my knowledge on the Station’s operations and management aspects. Being on a General Management Placement has given me that freedom to work in different areas of the business. Undoubtably, working in this dynamic environment has pulled out some of my best qualities, while giving me that nudge to improve in some areas.
Working in isolation isn’t possible at Piccadilly. The true essence of teamwork shines through at the Station during times of disruption. Christmas time is a great example. Footfall figures are on the rise as passengers travel through the station for the holidays. It was a great experience working with the entire team as we served over 400 passengers in need of mobility assistance on the 23rd December – the busiest day at the station. On a regular day, there is an average of 80 mobility assists, so all hands were on deck. Despite the busy nature, I wasn’t afraid to jump into the mix to assist passengers, knowing that everyone’s efforts will go a long way.
Speaking of disruption, a few calm days at the station don’t last long. Something always happens on the Nation’s Railway which can affect services coming in and going out of Manchester Piccadilly. Over the past few months, I’ve learnt that being flexible strengthens one’s ability to manage their time. Some days I’ll have a set of tasks I wish to complete, but they won’t always get crossed off the list as I’ll have to assist with passenger information on the Main Concourse. Most times this is spontaneous. As major disruption starts, it’s time to put my hi-vis on and go downstairs. The more I realised that every day is different at the station, I began to plan ahead, set realistic deadlines and manage my time to ensure that all my work is completed.
I consider myself quite confident, but that can diminish in an unknown environment. Daily at work I remind myself to speak up and believe I am capable. The work that I do isn’t extremely challenging, but it is critiqued by different managers. Constructive criticism has brought out the best in me, to do better the next time around. The support of my colleagues has also given my confidence a boost as they entrust me with different managerial tasks, involving me in the entire process.
What have I been up to?
I’ve had a considerable mix of managerial and operational tasks while undertaking my own objectives and projects. Some of these managerial and operational tasks include:
Supporting the daily operations of the station
I've shadowed the role of Shift Station Manager outside of the regular working hours. Yes, I did a late shift, 14:30 till 22:00 precisely. I also spend time on two of the station’s busiest platforms, platforms 13 and 14 (if you know, you know), assisting in times of disruption.
The lovely note-taking
One task which causes my brain to run a mile a minute. However, it has allowed me to understand the process surrounding HR cases, investigations and grievances.
I've been able to conduct interviews alongside other managers for roles within the station. It’s quite remarkable to sit on the other side of the desk, listening to candidates share their skills and abilities, and then make a totally unbiased decision based on who will be best for the company.
Network Rail also has an outstanding graduate scheme, where graduates move around the business completing different placements. I’ve been tasked with organising one-week placements at the Station, which gives them a general understanding of the various roles here. I also conducted a station tour for a group of young men with autism, and their parents, which allowed them to experience the daily operations.