By Mahala Herron

There are so many career fields that aren’t glamorized, but are still meaningful and filled with purpose. The transportation industry is one of them. Before coming to work at the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), I never thought deeply about working in the transportation industry. However, this just so happens to be the best internship experience I have had yet.

From the first day of meeting the other interns, I was sure that this would be more of a learning environment, as opposed to a cutthroat, competitive one. I quickly learned that SamTrans employees treat each other like family, and that everyone is willing to help.

This summer’s intern class was very close. We used GROUPME to share memes and inside jokes, make lunch plans, and carpool. I’ve made friends and potential colleagues. Each one of our positions had meaning and it was fascinating to see and hear about the work they were doing, and how satisfied they were to know that they were helping someone.

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College students who took part in the San Mateo County Transit District’s 2018 Summer Internship Program (Mahala on the far right).

I really loved my time at SamTrans. Some people have asked me if I would work here when I graduate college, and I always tell them of course I would! Some of the assignments I got to work on during my internship included attending weekly and monthly meetings, creating posts for this blog, attending Facebook Festivals, participating in marketing campaigns, and more. What I’ve taken away from this internship is a key lesson – you get out what you put in. I’ve made many efforts to learn this summer, and because of that, I have gained so much knowledge about the workforce. I’ve also learned that working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day is very tiring, so kudos to everyone who does it with a smile.

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Mahala working at different Transit District events, including Facebook Festivals.

I have experienced public transportation in the East Bay, but this is the most peaceful bus experience I’ve had in years; there are always smooth rides and kind drivers. I’ve learned that there is a stigma around riding the bus and that many people believe it is just for poor people. But I feel like the bus is such a pleasant experience because it’s spacious, clean, and efficient. The drivers are so passionate about their jobs and they really care about riders. Caltrain has been a good experience, too. As a part of this internship, I learned how to use the rail system, which provides daily commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose. It even extends to Gilroy on weekdays.

I am confident that I will go back to UCLA with a better understanding of my career field, better knowledge of how to communicate with the public, improved writing skills, and what it takes to put on an event and campaign. Thank you Tasha, Elaine and Dan for mentoring me this summer and making this the best experience ever!

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From left to right, Leslie, Elaine, Tasha, Dan and Mahala.

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Mahala Herron was a participant in the San Mateo County Transit District’s Summer Internship Program. She studies at UCLA and is from Oakland. Mahala interned in the Transit District’s Communications Department.

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