Email: The Yin and the Yang of it!

Email Etiquette

By Wanda Parker-Smith, University Recruiting Program Manager

It doesn’t matter if you are a Millennial or a Baby Boomer — email etiquette reminders are always good to have in your back pocket. Like it or not, email is still the most commonly used communication in today’s workplace. I’ve seen it all in my tenure at Amtrak.

Heck, I remember when we didn’t even have email! Millennials, can you imagine?! Maybe that’s why I still believe in certain situations, a face-to-face or telephone conversation may be the best communication style. That’s lesson number one for my Millennial colleagues. Lesson number one for my Baby Boomer colleagues is sometimes email is safer and smarter, and sometimes you just have to adjust your communication style depending on with whom you are communicating.

I guess it’s the yin and the yang of communicating today. Without further adieu, below are a few tips from me on how to effectively communicate with your colleagues via email:


  • Identify why you are writing to the recipient(s) in the subject line.
  • Think about what you want to say before typing your message.
  • Keep your email message short and concise.
  • An email message is a reflection of you. Always read over your email message before hitting the “send” button.
  • Check your email often and respond to the sender in a timely fashion. If you need additional time to research an issue, acknowledge the email and let the sender know when you will have an answer.
  • Think about whether “emoticons” are appropriate when communicating with an executive in your organization.
  • Prepare an automatic response to senders when you will be absent from the office. Identify a contact person or provide your cell number if the sender needs immediate attention (good customer service skills).
  • Use Instant Message (IM) appropriately in the workplace. IM messages are designed to be short and to the point. If the receiver is unavailable to have a conversation, refrain from sending repetitive messages.


  • Hit the “respond to all” button if recipients don’t need to read your message.
  • Discipline or fire an employee via email.
  • Send an email when you are angry. Remember, emails can be saved and forwarded to other individuals in your organization.
  • Forward jokes, chain letters or other inappropriate emails to your colleagues.
  • Type your message in all “capital” letters (this is identified as yelling or shouting).
  • Use “jargon” (i.e., RRB) if the recipients are not familiar with your company’s terminology.

Bottom line…. if you have to think too hard before you send an email then perhaps a face-to-face or telephone conversation may be your best bet.  Just say’ in.

Hot off the Presses: Amtrak Train Days to Launch in May

Amtrak Train Days

If you have participated in Amtrak National Train Days in the past, you know it’s an exciting and fun day for children and adults of all ages.  According the organizers of this event, the participation level has expanded and grown five-fold since it first launched 7 years ago.  The success of this event is thanks to the support and dedication of our employees… #TeamAmtrak. Due to the growing success and the concentrated resources required in supporting a one-day celebration, we are evolving this program into a traveling, community-centric experience under the new name of Amtrak Train Days.

Amtrak Train Days (ATD) will focus on the Amtrak brand, support our business lines and services, help our target audiences learn about the Amtrak experience and service and of course celebrate #TeamAmtrak over the course of spring, summer and fall in 2015.

Amtrak Train Days is kicking off at Chicago Union Station on May 9, and then ATD hits the rails, traveling to over 20 locations across the country.  Check photos of past events on the new web site at – the site will official launch in April where you will be able to plan your Amtrak Train Day activities.

At Amtrak it’s More Than Just a Job.

Do what you love Love what you do.

We want your work at Amtrak to be more than a job. We want it to be a fun and fulfilling experience where you find challenging and rewarding opportunities, respect among colleagues, competitive pay, benefits that protect you and your family, and a performance- oriented culture that recognizes and values your contributions and helps you reach your personal and professional goals.

Through your energy, enthusiasm and commitment to safety and security, customer service and financial excellence, you are the single most important element of our success. Every day, you deliver on our shared vision of: “Moving America where it wants to go.”

At Amtrak you will have… 

Freedom to Roam – You’ll have the opportunity to discover the country. With Amtrak’s Rail Pass, you and your family can travel our trains at no cost, subject to availability.

Opportunities to Discover – At Amtrak, your potential meets our possibilities through continuous opportunities for learning, personal development and career growth. Every day, we seek to develop and strengthen our Core Competencies – the knowledge, skills and abilities – we need to be successful at Amtrak. We partner with you throughout your career to help you achieve all that’s possible at Amtrak.

A Chance to Be at Your Best – We know we can only do our best for our customers when you feel your best. At Amtrak, we take a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing. You’ll enjoy competitive health and wellness benefits, onsite and community- based fitness activities, as well as savings and income protection opportunities for your future.

Make Your Mark – With Amtrak, your contributions are reflected in our competitive, comprehensive compensation package. We offer performance-based incentives and recognition programs that allow you to benefit from your individual performance and our shared success.

Impact Your Community – Amtrak offers you a number of ways to get involved and give back to the communities where we operate. From annual toy drives to relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters, from the United Way donation drive to our National Train Day that celebrates the importance of rail transportation in towns across America.


Amtrak Celebrates Black History Month

Amtrak Jobs - Interviewing

Black History Month (BHM) is an annual celebration recognized during the month of February. Amtrak’s celebration of Black History Month will feature a wide range of in-station events, promotions, contests and advertising.

“Black History Month is a great time to not only reflect on the important contributions made by so many Americans, but it allows us the opportunity to dream and to learn.” said Darlene Abubakar, senior director, National Advertising and Marketing Programs. “

Below is a sampling of the various activities and events taking place around the system. Additional postings will be listed soon.

Multicultural Symposium Series: Amtrak will be sponsoring the 22nd annual Empowerment Recognition Multicultural BHM Breakfast to salute Community and Faith Based Leadership on Tuesday Feb. 10, at 8:30 a.m. at the Colonnade Boston Hotel. The keynote speaker is Reverend Karla Cooper, Professor and Co-Founder AME India. For details visit

The Portland Jazz Festival: Amtrak Cascades is proud to sponsor the Portland Jazz Festival. The organization’s mission is to inspire, educate and develop future jazz audiences for generations to come.  The festival is a multi-venue series of jazz events, education and outreach programs that extend into Portland, Oregon schools and neighborhoods.

Amtrak Pioneer Awards: In partnership with the Washington Wizards, today, Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m., at the Verizon Center, the Amtrak Pioneer Award will be presented, recognizing local community leaders who have made a positive impact on the Washington, D.C., area.

On Friday, Feb. 6, at 7:00 p.m., Amtrak will partner with the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center where the Amtrak Pioneer Award will be presented, recognizing local community leaders who have made a positive impact on the New York City area.

Newark Museum: Black History Month will include a month long schedule of family programs, hands on workshops for children/adults, lectures, films and live theatre, dance and music performances at this New Jersey museum Special gallery tours will herald the accomplishments of prominent African American artists. Visit for more information.

African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP): On February 28, Amtrak and the African American Museum will have a Black History Month event to support One Book, One Philadelphia and its book selection of Locomotive for 2015. One Book, One Philadelphia is a joint project of the Mayor’s Office and the Free Library of Philadelphia that has the goal of promoting literacy and encouraging the Philadelphia community to come together through reading and discussing a single book.

The museum will be using the book as the touch point for their 2015 February Macy’s Family Fun Day.  The day will be filled with family-oriented activities – games, crafts and contests all with a train theme.  An Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and Track / Signal person will also be part of the day’s festivities. Visit for more information.

B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore: Proudly presented by Amtrak, the B&O Railroad Museum opens a new African American exhibit that celebrates the contributions of African Americans to the railroad industry. Learn about these men and women who filled vital jobs along the B&O Railroad’s line and understand how significant social issues, such as segregation, affected railroading.

New exhibits focus on African American passenger travel during segregation and chefs and waiters who worked on B&O dining cars. More info at:

Washington Union Station: The Mid-Atlantic Division Employee Black History Committee is inviting all Amtrak employees and their families to come out to support the 18th Annual Black History Celebration program at Washington Union Station, Starlight Room, Gate C on Saturday, February 21 from noon – 3:00 p.m.  This year’s event will honor African American Women in Media and Andrea Roane, a local television news anchor, will be a guest speaker.

New York Penn Station: Amtrak sponsored BHM activities in the New York Penn Station Rotunda area will include:

  • 18 and 19: The New York Historical Society Educational Series – History of Slavery in New York City and History of the Underground Railroad. Visual and hands-on presentations will be available from 10:00 a.m. –  noon and 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • 18 and 19: Documentary Visual Presentations to include a slide show and short documentary films with audio on topics such as Black American History and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Presentations are from noon – 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • 25: Live on-site mini performances from professional dancers and alumni from the Dance Theater of Harlem. Performances will be held between 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Hiring Events: What is your goal?

By Wanda Parker-Smith, University Recruiting Program Manager

hiring events

One way, to be successful at a job fair, is to go into the event with a goal. What is your goal? This is an important question. Is your goal for the hiring event to find a job; or is your goal to find a fulfilling career?

Employers meet a large number of potential candidates in a short period of time at hiring events. It’s easy to spot passionate people who are ready to begin their career, and it’s even easier to spot people who just want a job.

#AmtrakCareersTIP: You are not off to a good start if you begin your conversation with a company representative with the question, “what jobs do you have?” 

Recruiters are looking for candidates with a career focus. Explore career opportunities with a number of employers and focus on your qualifications and your future career goals.

Before the Career Fair:

  • Get a list of the companies that will be attending the career fair
  • Be open to looking at smaller companies – don’t focus your attention solely on well-known or large companies.
  • Identify the companies that are looking for candidates with your experience/degree. Research each company so you don’t waste your time meeting with companies that are not a good fit
  • Prepare questions to ask the employers.

Sample Questions:

  1. How many employees does your company have?
  2. How long does the hiring process take?
  3. How long have you been with the company?
  4. What percentage of applicants are eventually hired? What is the retention rate?
  5. How would you describe your organization’s culture? 
  6. Do you offer relocation?

During the Career Fair:

  • Map out your strategy. Look online to see where the company’s you are interested in are located onsite.
  • Dress appropriately, comb your hair and stand up straight!
  • Display good organizational skills. Many companies do not accept paper resumes these days but have a copy or two on hand just in case but don’t pull your resume wrinkled or folded out of your pocket or backpack. Invest in a nice professional bag or simply carry a plain folder with you.
  • Take notes and get names or business cards of the people you talk to.
  • Practice your introduction and remember your career goals. Ask your friends to help you practice your introduction before the event.
  • Make sure your handshake is firm and look the company representative in their eyes. Again, ask your friends to help you practice. No one likes a wimpy handshake!
  • Have your three or four sentences ready to go if you are asked, “Why did you visit Amtrak’s table today? Remember you are looking for a career not a just a job.
  • When you meet with the recruiter, spend your time wisely. Explain what you can do for Amtrak. Be concise and thorough explaining you feel you are qualified using real examples but don’t talk too much! Don’t rehash how long you’ve been out of work, how many resumes you’ve sent out and the number of interviews you’ve been on.
  • Follow instructions –if Amtrak is not taking resumes or conducting interviews on site, make sure you visit their website and apply online.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities at the hiring events if available.

After the Career Fair:

  • Follow-up with the recruiter (via email, letter or phone call) to thank the recruiter for meeting with you.
  • Identify the hiring event where you met the recruiter and mention something to make the recruiter remember you (i.e., NJIT Spring Job Fair)
  • Express your interest in working for Amtrak and find out what are the next steps in the interviewing process (i.e., a face-to-face interview)

Hopefully, these tips have helped. Hiring events are great opportunities for you to visit with our team and to ask specific questions about our company. But don’t worry if you do not see a hiring event in your area, you can always search for and apply for your next career opportunity online at

Translate your Military Skills (via @RecruitMilitary)

Because Amtrak has a long history of providing career opportunities to veterans and we are committed to continuing this tradition we thought this video by RecruitMilitary was too good not to share.

We have a team of dedicated recruiters who will work with you to understand your military skills experience and training to find career opportunities that best align with your capabilities – but it starts with you!  Help us help you!

How to Translate your Military Skills to Civilian Language Effectively from Recruit Military on Vimeo.

You can also connect with our Veteran hiring team on Linkedin in our Amtrak Veterans Group or on Twitter @AmtrakVets

Amtrak is Vigilant About Safety


As we progress into the New Year, we’d like to reflect on how can we make this new year a safe one with a renewed awareness on safety with a few tips.

Think about our actions and their consequences – It is true that every action has a reaction. Think about what could possibly go wrong with what we are doing; then think about what we can do to prevent it. Remember to maintain a heightened sense of awareness regarding safety risk and take consistent action to reduce exposure to you and others.

Communication – It is important that we all participate in safety discussions. If you are leading a safety discussion, engage others by asking questions and getting feedback.

Ask Questions – When it comes to safety, No question is wrong. The answer to your question could prevent someone from being injured; help by participating.

Take Your Time – There is no reason to hurry through a safety discussion. Take your time and have a conversation about safety. Rushing could add to the possibility of missing something important for your co-workers.

Personal Sharing – Your personal attitude and role modeling are critical factors in the success of your effective safety discussions.

Do you have safety tips that you’d like to share?  Visit Amtrak Careers on Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram to share.

#FlashbackFriday: Amtrak National Train Day Infographic (#NTD)

Amtrak employees drive the performance needed to make us America’s first intercity travel choice. We’re continuously improving Amtrak by leveraging the expertise of the people who know our business and our industry best: our employees. To search and apply for jobs at Amtrak visit our career center at

Amtrak Celebrates the Spirit of the Season

Amtrak Holiday Wreath

Each year, Amtrak employees participate in holiday event to spread cheer and become involved in local and national community activities. Here are just a few examples of how we (#TeamAmtrak) celebrates the joy of the holiday season around the country.  If you plan to join us at one of these events and take a photo for your scrapbook, tag the photos #TeamAmtrak or #AmtrakAlltheWay and we may feature your photos on one of the Amtrak Instagram profiles!

Seattle, Wash. – Through Dec. 21, canned food donations will be accepted at King Street station for Northwest Harvest, a local food bank in the Seattle area.  A luggage float will be available in the station throughout the Thanksgiving and holiday season.

In addition, on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Santa Claus will host a holiday event at the station. Passengers young and old can pose for pictures with Santa, and pictures will either be printed or emailed.  This free and fun family event will also offer complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and other treats.  From noon-1:00 p.m., the Seattle Symphony Chorale will be singing favorite holiday songs. Canned food donations for Northwest Harvest will be accepted throughout the event

Baltimore, Md. – On Dec. 24 from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., visitors in the station will be able to enjoy holiday carols performed by Charlene Cochran and the Fifth Avenue Band.

Tucson, Ariz. – On December 20, Amtrak will be a sponsor of the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum’s annual “Santa Coming to Tucson” event held at the notable train depot located at 414. N. Toole Ave.  At the free event, Santa will be greeting kids in front of the historic locomotive from 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., followed by a classic holiday movie.

Washington, D.C.From Dec. 4 – Jan. 1, 2015, visitors to the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., can enjoy watching an Amtrak model train circle the notable evergreen located at President’s Park, just south of the White House. This is the sixth year Amtrak has participated in this national tradition in conjunction with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation (the official charity of America’s national parks) and the National Christmas Tree Railroad.

The model represents Amtrak’s Midwest corridor service, as well as our Northeast Regional service south of Washington, D.C., where the trains operate with this type of equipment. For more information visit

New York Penn StationThrough Dec. 24, drop off canned food items at the Amtrak Customer office, behind the 15 -16 west gates. Items will be donated to the St. Francis Food Pantry and Shelter, near the station.

A few of this years events have already taken place and they include:

Niles, Mich. – On Dec. 6 the Four Flags Garden Club will hosted its 23nd Annual Hometown Christmas celebration at the historic Amtrak Depot. Visitors enjoyed the beautiful holiday decorations, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and treats such as homemade cookies, cider and candy.

Baltimore, Md. – On Dec. 3, the lights were turned on at the annual Christmas tree lighting in the main hall at the station.

Dillon, S.C. On Dec.6, the Polar Express left Dillon, S.C., en route to Fayetteville, N.C., for a one-day round-trip journey.  In Fayetteville, passengers enjoyed a buffet lunch and met Santa before returning back to Dillon.

“Amtrak Ink,” December 2014: A Monthly Publication for and by Amtrak Employees

Amtrak Ink is the Amtrak employees’ monthly source for company news, information and features. You can search for and apply for jobs at Amtrak in our career center at