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Careers That Travel is an interview series where we feature people who get to travel for work. This post was created during National Engineers Week 2019, where we showcased five different engineers who travel as part of their jobs.
In this post, we feature Faizan, who is a friend from university. Faizan is in a rotational trainee program, where he is currently traveling to different sites to learn as much as possible.
1. What is your current job, and how does travel play into your role?
I am a Management Trainee in the track maintenance department for a railroad network. Since I am in the trainee program, my responsibility is to learn as much as possible by going to different projects and shadowing different people. I stay mainly in my division (Lincoln to Kansas City and Lincoln to Creston, Iowa) unless there’s a big project happening elsewhere, or the position I need to shadow isn’t in my division. My day to day is generally sporadic, depending on who I am shadowing at the time and what are they working on. Things tend to happen last minute, especially in the winter. The track breaks frequently because of the sub zero temperatures and it takes longer for people to fix it due to the cold.
2. What did you study in school, and what helped prepare you for this job?
I got my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, however I’m applying maybe 20% of what I learned in class to my job. The main skills required to work for my company are people, leadership and project management skills. I obtained almost all those skills through my leadership roles in The Drivers Club, Formula SAE and American Society for Mechanical Engineers.
3. What is the most exciting place that you have traveled to for work? Least exciting?
The most exciting place I have visited has to be Whitefish, MT. It’s a small tourist town in western Montana and home to Glacier National Park. They have great food and scenery there. I got a chance to ride a train from Whitefish, MT, to Sandpoint, ID, and the train went through the mountains, making it one of the most beautiful places I have ever gone through. I would highly recommend people visit at least once. Least exciting place would anywhere in Iowa and unfortunately, I go there most often too. Iowa is flat, nothing but corn fields and snow.
4. What types of challenges do you face while on the road?
There’s a bunch of challenges that I face due to traveling – not getting proper sleep being on the top of the list. Because I travel sporadically, I sometimes have to drive out at 4:00 am or drive back super late, which cuts in to my time of sleep. I am a competitive power lifter, so traveling affects my diet and my lifts. If I do get time to go to the gym, I am extremely tired and have to stretch even more to get rid of the tightness caused by sitting on planes or driving for long periods of time.
5. Do you get to travel with a team, or do you typically travel for work by yourself?
I generally do not travel with teams unless there’s a big project happening. If there’s a big project that my other Management Trainee friends can benefit from, I contact them to see if they’d like to join. If they do, then we go out explore the city we are in, and even if I am by myself, I try to enjoy the different types of food and restaurants in the city.
6. How long is a typical work trip? Do you ever extend your stay for personal time?
A typical work trip depends on the project. It can be anywhere from a day trip to a week trip, and depending on the city I am going to, I extend my trip by a day or two to explore.
7. Do you have a home base, or are you completely remote?
My home base is in Lincoln, NE and I do have cubicle, but I am rarely ever there. I am usually out in the field with the coworkers I am shadowing or projects that I am managing. Most of the work done in my departments is on the phone or in the car.
8. How does the amount of travel you do change as you move up in this career?
My next position doesn’t require me to travel as much it’s mainly a desk job. The position after that, I’ll be given a territory and will be traveling mainly in the territory I oversee.
9. Does your company offer any benefits for being on the road?
My company accommodates me with literally everything when I travel. This ranges from rentals and hotels, to food and gym passes. This is great because I get to try different food and gyms, drive different cars and get free rental and hotel points.
10. What advice do you have for someone who has to start traveling for work?
Sign up for reward accounts with rental, hotel and airline companies. Choose one brand and stick with them to collect the most amount of points. If you travel sporadically like I do, make sure to keep an extra set of clothes in your car just in case. Make sure to make the most of your trips: go try out different restaurants and bars, if you’re an athlete go try out different gyms, if you rent cars frequently try renting something different each time, or if your personal car is a sports car, rent a truck and go off-roading with it.
Do you travel for work? We’d love to interview you! If you are interested in being featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read about other traveling engineers:
- Michael the Cybersecurity Consulting Manager at a consulting firm
- Kaitlyn the Product Marketing Engineer at a semiconductor manufacturing company