Former apprentice turned apprentice manager, Tom Smith, Principal Sponsor at Transport for London (TfL), is the perfect example of how being a STEM ambassador can improve your personal and professional capabilities to enable you to progress in your career.
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Tom started out at TfL as a Transport Planning apprentice in 2016, when he was just 17 years old. He became a CIHT Member and STEM ambassador when he completed his apprenticeship and is vocal about how he can contribute some of his career advancement to being a STEM ambassador.
Tom has of course been supported by his employer, TfL, by CIHT and others along the way, but he has also used his STEM activities to increase his personal and professional development.
Tom can attribute being a STEM ambassador with increased interpersonal, communication, presentation and even people management skills, which better enables him to now manage other apprentices on the Transport Planning apprenticeship.
This takes his journey full circle, from apprentice, to apprentice manager.
Tom Smith - Transport for London
When asked how he used his role as a STEM ambassador to progress his career, Tom says:
“I have used my role as a CIHT STEM ambassador to gain the skills, experience and confidence needed to help me run the transport planning technician apprenticeship scheme for TfL. For this role I utilize stakeholder engagement skills, project management, people management and time management skills among others and through delivering STEM activities I am certain that my confidence and abilities has increased in some of these areas. Having completed the Transport Planning apprenticeship myself, I was best placed to support the apprentices within my team and being a STEM ambassador has better prepared me for the challenge”.
When asked if fellow STEM ambassadors helped him overcome personal and professional challenges, Tom says:
“Yes, during Covid, fewer people were travelling on public transport, so TfL briefly paused its recruitment processes; I ended up getting a little stuck moving to the next level in my career, but I knew that I wanted to stay at TfL, so I decided to remain where I was and gain more experience. When things started to normalise, an opportunity presented itself, but I soon realised that I was not able to vocalize how good I was in an interview setting. I sought advice from colleagues and fellow STEM ambassadors who had delivered soft skill activities such as CV writing and interview skills. I learnt from them and became more confident within interviews and am proud to say that I got the job I wanted. Now, as a STEM ambassador, I can support the next generation to learn these useful soft skills that I learnt.”
When asked what the future looks like for him, Tom says:
“More of the same for now. I hope to continue managing projects at TfL and seeing the fruits of my labour come to like on the streets of London. I will continue to deliver STEM activities, attend CIHT forums and events and utilize CIHT Learn to continually gain more knowledge of how highways and transportation works across the country. I hope also to improve my networking through the CIHT London Region; there are lots of experienced people that I want to learn from.
My experience as a STEM ambassador will continue to help me manage the Transport Planning apprenticeship scheme at TfL. Starting out my career as a Transport Planning apprentice, I feel I want to give something back to the program. I believe that we all have a shared responsibility to pass on the knowledge and experience we have to inspire the next generation, and for those early career professionals reading this, it also looks great on your CV.”
If you would like further information on the benefits of being a STEM ambassador, please watch this insightful webinar on what being a STEM ambassador is all about. If you feel inspired and would like to become a STEM ambassador, please watch this 3 minute video on how to sign up, or contact CIHT at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Whether you are just starting out in your career in highways & transportation or are an experienced professional, CIHT can help to support your ongoing professional development and /or guide you towards the career path of your choice. Please visit our careers page for more information.