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Rider's Almanac Blog

Career Tracks

Career Tracks: Ben Novak, light rail vehicle maintenance training supervisor

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, January 5, 2022 5:20:00 AM

Many people who work at Metro Transit take on new responsibilities and roles throughout their careers. Career Tracks highlights the paths employees have taken to their latest assignment and where they see themselves going next. To learn more about career opportunities at Metro Transit and the Metropolitan Council, visit 

How did you begin your career with Metro Transit?

I began in 2019 as a light rail electro-mechanic technician in the METRO Blue Line shop. Before coming here, I worked at the United Taconite iron ore mine in Eveleth for almost five years. I started as a production truck driver in the pit, operating heavy equipment and hauling iron ore from the mine to the crusher where it got processed into smaller pieces and sent to the plant. I was offered a variety of training and opportunities to go out in the field and train people to operate equipment, to work on mechanical and electrical equipment and anything in the crusher with the conveyor belts. After a while, I realized it was not what I wanted. I moved to the Twin Cities and dabbled in a couple of roles before applying for Metro Transit.

I am a classic car enthusiast and have taught myself to replace engines. I also enjoy cooking and trying different cuisines. I recently made Nigerian food. A lot of my supervisors say I'm just working here until I become a professional chef!  

What were your career goals and what steps did you take to achieve them?

My career goals have always been to learn as much as I can and apply that to my daily routine and career. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. I attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and studied biology with a minor in chemistry and physics with an emphasis in pre-med. I became a teaching assistant and tutor for several subjects. I really enjoyed teaching and the rewarding feeling of being able to relate varying topics to my students and help them better understand the subject matter. Then, I got offered an internship at the iron ore mine, which led to a full-time job there after college. I started taking on more roles and responsibilities. When I got my job here, I was told there would be lots of opportunities to grow. That grabbed my attention because I have always been a person who wants to gain knowledge and apply that to my career.

What advice do you have for others who want to take on more responsibilities or different responsibilities?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A lot of people might think it’s silly or are embarrassed to ask. I encourage questions all the time. I also feel being approachable and having good, open communication and being available are important attributes. And I believe if you're given opportunity to take courses at your job to take advantage of it. Today there are so many learning tools available. The biggest thing is taking the initiative and applying yourself.