Nikelle started her career as a bus driver apprentice for Go-Ahead London. Here, she shares her story.
It’s amazing to me that I have a job that excites me. I had always fancied the idea of working as a bus driver – it was just a question of when.
I had applied in the past for bus driver roles, but it didn’t feel right at the time so I didn’t pursue it beyond the initial phases of the application but when I saw it advertised this time and read through the job description and reviews about the company, I got excited about working for Go- Ahead.
At the start there was a lot to process and it was obviously a big change, but I felt ready for it and welcomed it with an open mind.
Part of that is because I have a few family and friends in the industry, some who have been working as a bus driver for years and still are, so I had a good network of people who could help prepare me.
The most interesting thing about the process was when I realised there was an apprenticeship you could take before becoming a driver. I wasn’t just getting a job, I would be able to get some sort of qualification and could get paid while I was learning.
Arriving at Camberwell for my first day was a bit overwhelming, with all the sounds and sights of the big garage – it’s a bit of an attack on the senses, but you quickly find it all just becomes a natural part of your surroundings. Each day since my first one, has just got better and better.
Being a female bus driver, it feels great to challenge the misconceptions around women and their ability to drive. I feel confident in saying that I am a professional driver.
Being a bus driver is about more than just driving being aware of the people around you, about looking out for threats and danger – about getting people to work and home, safe and sound.
As a young black woman, not many of us have the option to really take control of our careers, but I feel like I’ve gained a huge privilege in doing something that I want to do and that I’m really good at!
There are plenty more female drivers out there, especially as I have seen within Go-Ahead. It’s very inspiring and part of the reason why I joined. I want this pattern to continue and I want to see more women working across transport!
What advice for others wanting to change careers?
Break the stereotypical views about what is a man’s job. All the women out there maybe thinking about bus driving should go for it! It is a great accomplishment and truly different experience every day.