2017 Automotive Service Technician Graduate &
Gold Wrench Award for Academic Average, Shop Skills & Attendance
Technician A at Pep Boys
Traditional Education is not suited for everyone; I definitely did not think it was for me.
I promised my mother I would go to college. My father is a fine artist, so creativity is in my genes. After getting my GED, I enrolled in a well-known art school.
After six months at college, I knew a career in art was not the right path.
I was only 16 and my roommates were in their 20's.Not only was the age difference a huge culture shock, but I could not see a financially sustainable future as an artist. I knew there was something better—I just had to find it.
Knowing the military would be a pathway to specialized training, I joined the army.
I went to a recruitment center and asked them to put me into the infantry. Life in the service was a big shift from painting. At the end of three years of honorable service, I wasn't sure I could find a career as high speed and meaningful as my time in army.
Coming out of the infantry, I wondered what skills I had for the workforce.
My hard skills had been honed for the battlefield. Many veterans enter the police force; that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
For a while I worked in corporate security at a Fortune 1000 company.
I moved up quickly to middle management. I spent 8 hours at a desk all day. I was financially stable, but knew a sedentary lifestyle didn't suit me.
I decided that traveling would give me the freedom to find out what I loved to do.
To change my life, I sold everything I owned—even my bed. I drilled holes in the wall to hang a hammock for sleeping. I used the money from selling my possessions to purchase a passport and a plane ticket.
I gave two weeks’ notice at my job—when the two weeks were up, I got on a plane.
In Bangkok, Thailand, I was able to live well on very little money. I loved talking with the Thai people; I learned they could do almost anything with just about nothing.
Moving on to Singapore, I found the culture was very different compared with Bangkok.
Everyone seemed to be a millionaire; they all owned Lamborghinis and worked as hedge fund managers, bankers, or in similar occupations.
I eventually arrived in Australia, where I felt more at home with the people.
I worked at different jobs, but felt I was in the right place when I entered the automotive industry. I talked my way into working for a man who knew the car business inside and out. He put up the money to buy and flip cars; my job was to fix them up for sale. Coming home covered in grease, working hands-on as a mechanic beat sitting at a desk any day!
I told him I could do light mechanical and electric work.
We both quickly realized that I still had a lot to learn. Although I had worked on motorcycles and cars as a hobby, I hadn't had any formal training.
I worked 16-17 hours a day to accomplish what a trained, experienced tech could do in five.
Recognizing that I had the drive and passion to learn the job, he kept me on and taught me about the industry.
A year after I left the US, it was time to come home.
On the trip home, I returned to Bangkok, where the people were nice and the food was good. I rented a scooter and drove to Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).
Back at home, I was determined to learn to work with my hands in the Auto Industry.
I didn’t care what it took to be able to do that. I wanted to be the best I could be at whatever I chose to do.
I took a job detailing cars and motorcycles.
It was the one thing I knew I was good at doing. I took detailing seriously—but the company I worked for, and the people I worked with, did not respect what I did.
I searched for a technical college in New England.
I was already good with cars—I just wanted to learn the right way to work on them, in preference to using duct tape and zip ties to patch things together.
I looked at more expensive schools.
I found that at many schools, students worked on cars that were cut-in-half. The students never see the cars actually run, either before or after working on them.
At MTTI, you work on real cars.
You learn how to remove rusted and broken bolts. You do real life repairs on your own car, other students’ cars, and cars that people bring to the school. You have the satisfaction of helping your community with repairs and maintenance—and watching them happily drive their cars away.
MTTI gave me the tools to make it happen.
Not just the industry tool set—which I continue to use after graduation—but the knowledge I gained from the experienced instructors. Rich and Arturo taught me the basic concepts about everything you need to know. Nuts and bolts might be different according to the make and model—or a repair might require special tools—but if you know the theory of how things work, you can fix anything from a farm truck to a Ferrari.
I also learned soft skills.
Erin in Career Services helped me prepare for job search, including writing a resume and practicing for interviews.
MTTI helped me find a good job.
When only part-way through the program, Pep Boys came to the school to interview students—they hired me. I worked part-time until I graduated. Now, full-time, I’ve doubled the salary I was making at my middle management desk job in corporate security.
My instructors at MTTI taught me the key to working flat rate.
You need to know the steps you will take before you even see the car you are working on. Especially for things you do a lot—tires or general maintenance—you can set it up to be fast and efficient. I count the steps from the car to the toolbox and set up, within arm's reach, the 10% of the tools that I will use 90% of the time. This was one of the many skills they taught me.
Working flat rate, I keep up with the more experienced techs in the shop.
The day I was credited 15.4 hours for 8 hours of physical work, I knew I had chosen the right career—and I love it. It is always challenging and exciting to find the right—and the fastest—way to do something.
While working, I am continuing my education.
Pep Boys is paying for me to take ASE tests. Only a few months out of school, and I am well on my way to becoming a Master Technician at Pep Boys; a couple of more tests and I will also be ASE Certified as a Master Tech!
MTTI is the best choice if you are ready to master your craft.
The Automotive Service Tech program gives you the opportunity to experience what it is like working in a real shop, solving the problems you will experience on the job, and using industry tools.
You get out what you put into the Auto Service Tech program.
Commit to your program—be at school every day, don’t text on your phone during class. If you set project goals for yourself, you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought was possible.
When you love something, you get good at it quickly.
I went from loathing high school to earning a 97.4 GPA at MTTI. I was awarded the Gold Wrench for my class. When you put in the work and are passionate about what you are learning, then you will be successful. I have the fire to learn more and to push myself to be the best I can be, in an industry I love.