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The Intern Experience at CATA

Monday, January 18, 2021

Categories: Blog, Employees

While meeting the mobility needs of our community is a main focus at CATA, we also aim to provide meaningful work experience to emerging young professionals. The CATA Marketing Department currently employs two interns who are gaining valuable work experience right here in our office, or remotely for the time being. 

Kate Vernier’s ExperienceKate Vernier

My name is Kate Vernier, and I’m a senior at Michigan State University majoring in Advertising Management. I’ve been an intern within CATA’s Marketing Department for almost one year. Throughout this internship, I’ve learned so many skills and gained professional experience that will benefit me in my future career. 

Both interns work on various projects and tasks, ranging from social media to working hands-on with community members. My favorite project so far has been helping to promote CATA’s Grab & Go Express. This free service allowed riders to travel through Downtown Lansing and Old Town, with stops within walking distance of over 50 businesses. Through this project, I was able to speak with many local business owners, witnessing firsthand how passionate they are about their work and the community. Experiences like this have helped build transferable skills that I’ll use in my future career. 

I’m also very active within MSU’s Fraternity and Sorority Community. I’ve been a member of Kappa Delta Sorority for almost four years, and have served on MSU’s Panhellenic Executive Board as Vice President of Community Relations and as Panhellenic President. 

Delaney PickettDelaney Pickett’s Experience

I am Delaney Pickett, a sophomore at Northern Michigan University studying Graphic Design. I have been interning at CATA for a few months now and have learned so much already. This internship has given me a chance to experience the marketing side of graphic design and work with some very talented people in this field.

One of my first projects was to create designs for information screens inside some of the CATA bus shelters. I also started designing graphics for CATA’s Instagram account. Social media was something I had never worked on before, but involved skills I was eager to develop. These assignments showed me how to analyze and project a company’s voice. Being a designer means being a communicator, and interning at CATA has strengthened my skills in both roles.

When I am not working on a project for CATA, I like to take advantage of the breathtaking views Marquette has to offer. Hiking and running on the trails of Northern Michigan often inspires my personal artwork.

Working at an Internship during COVID-19

As a safety precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, CATA has Kate, Delaney and many administrative employees working remotely. But the value of their internships hasn’t been lost at all for Kate and Delaney. They meet frequently with members of the Marketing Department and have been given all the resources needed to continue to be successful in their positions.

Whether it comes to senior-level executives or young, ambitious interns, CATA strives to foster a collaborative and engaging workplace for all.

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Collaboration Meets Innovation to Create a New CATA Bus Stop

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community, Employees

Collaboration and innovative ideas are part of what makes our team so special – especially when they’re least expected. 

Nick Zickefoose, a customer experience representative at CATA, saw a need in the community and set out to fulfill it. 

Using Teamwork and Customer Feedback to Turn an Idea into Reality

A CATA rider contacted Nick suggesting a new bus stop on Route 9 in front of Atlas Meds Pharmacy. “He told me about how a lot of elderly and disabled customers use that particular pharmacy, but they had to walk from the current Route 9 stops to get there – which isn’t always easy for someone depending on their situation,” Nick said. Before a new stop was in place, the walk to Atlas Meds Pharmacy was several blocks. 

“The addition of this stop made sense from a number of angles,” said Kai Christiansen, the CATA Service Planning and Scheduling Manager. 

Kai received an email from Nick with the new bus stop suggestion. “I didn’t want to just let [the] request go unheard as it sounded like it had the potential to help a lot of people,” Nick said. “I remembered being told early in my time at CATA about Kai Christiansen over in planning and he’s incredibly good with these sorts of things.”

CATA Customer Experience Representative Nick Zickefoose

 

Kai was pleasantly surprised when Nick reached out to him and immediately got to work. “The quality of the information which Nick provided to me made my work easy,” Kai said. He noted it was "clear and actionable, making this process very straightforward.”

How a New Bus Stop is Created

The creation of a new CATA bus stop involves communication with stakeholders and configuration to meet customer, property owner and municipal needs. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance is also important. 

Once the stop has been designed, the building can begin. A contractor is methodically chosen, geolocation is added and a stop number is assigned.

The process to create a new bus stop involves CATA’s planning, facilities and procurement departments. It wouldn’t be possible without a strong and passionate team.

“It is always rewarding to be able to help facilitate the needs of our customers and create transportation solutions that make sense,” Kai said. 

The new stop on Route 9 is now up and running on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in front of Atlas Meds Pharmacy.

CATA bus stop #6081 in front of Atlas Meds Pharmacy

CATA’s priority continues to be meeting the mobility needs of our region. This priority is made possible in part through our dynamic, collaborative workforce. 

To learn more about Nick Zickefoose and the collaborative efforts of his department, click here.

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Behind the Curtain of Customer Experience

Friday, October 2, 2020

Categories: Blog, Employees

You may know our customer experience representatives –⁠ or CRXs, for short –⁠ as voices on the phone or faces in the information booth at CATA facilities.

At a glance, these employees sell passes, administer fare tokens and provide rider information. But their role goes far beyond what meets the eye.

CXR Nick Zickefoose cites around a dozen online programs he has to use quickly and efficiently to give customers the best information.

“I do feel like a lot of the people in the City of Lansing tend to view us as a very reliable source of information, not just for CATA,” Zickefoose said. “Oftentimes we’ll end up answering questions just about the city in general, for people that have just moved here.”

The customer experience department receives hundreds of phone calls a day. Sometimes these come from parents asking for information for their students. Other times, calls come from those looking for a ride to a nearby homeless shelter for their next meal. The team knows many of these customers by name, and remains when to lend a helping hand or listening ear.

“Just being able to help somebody is one of my most enjoyable parts about this job,” said Schuyler Brown, another member of the CXR team.

Customer Experience Representative Schuyler Brown poses in front of the CATA Transportation Center

Zickefoose recounts the times he’s stayed on the phone with new riders until they reach their nearest bus stop and feel comfortable. He’s also provided words of encouragement to customers going through tough times.

 “There are a lot of moments where there’s a deeper interaction with our customers and the people who live in Lansing,” Zickefoose said.

Customer Experience Supervisor Sam Soliz notes there are many unpredictable factors in public transportation –⁠ weather, traffic, red lights, accidents, medical emergencies and detours to name a few.

“If our department can use our tools and our empathy to eliminate any or all of that stress, we’ve made the customers day just a little bit better,” Soliz said. “That’s what it’s all about –⁠ removing just one pain point from their day in the hopes of making it better.”

Thank you to this team for making days at CATA better for our employees, riders and the public. The community is incredibly fortunate to have such empathetic, resourceful and talented representatives getting people where they need to go.

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