“Shawn came to us well prepared; he had been taught the right things at school. During his interview, Shawn stood out; he was enthusiastic and ready to learn. He walked in the door, sat down in front of me—confident and already committed to making it in the car business.”
I was working at an oil change service spot while going to school. My boss there had encouraged me to shoot for a luxury dealership after graduation. He said: “That’s where you make more money”.
As a child, I loved watching the race car movies. Sometime I’d watch my dad working on cars. After graduating in 2020 from Attleboro High School, I tried going to a community college. Locked down during the pandemic, we attended classes virtually from home. Learning online, not talking directly with teachers or my classmates, wasn’t working for me. I didn’t do well. I felt I was wasting my money.
I didn’t want to work at just any job or stay at home doing nothing. I wanted the same thing my family wanted for me—an education. If I enrolled in an automotive program, I’d at least be doing something I like. I texted a friend from high school who had gone to MTTI. He told me that he loved working at a dealership and encouraged me to contact Cheryl, MTTI’s automotive program Admissions Rep.
Cheryl said, “Oh, you like working on your own car? You can work on your car as part of the program and get a toolbox to use in the shop and during internship.” I’d have the opportunity to keep the tools when employed as an auto tech. I knew having a professional tool set would help me get hired.
He made the class a safe place to ask questions and always made sure that we understood each subject. Practicing the skills hands-on in the shop prepared me for working in the real world.
Completely new for me, I worried I wouldn’t be able to understand electrical diagnosis. Jameson promised me, “You’re going to pass electrical”. Learning the electrical basics, being able to read wiring diagrams and to re-wire and solder, gave me confidence I would be able to learn how to work on electrical systems of luxury cars.
Lowering the suspension to make the car sit closer to the ground changes how it looks and can improve performance. A classmate and I did the fronts and the rears on two separate days. We learned how to measure and level the car. The first day when I put the coil covers on the lower suspension strut, I accidentally made it too low; it scraped the ground a little. Adjusting it the next day, we learned how to do it right—and we had so much fun!
I practiced aligning cars, even aligning my own car multiple times to get it just right. Jameson gave me a live job working on the frontend steering linkage of a 1995 Jeep Cherokee. At first, I was confused, because it has a very different steering linkage than my own car. When I took it apart and looked at the parts, I could see how everything would go back together. It’s a lot like Lego pieces!
I applied to dealerships, including Lexus. The Service Manager at Lexus, Brian Matthews, called me. Even from my first interview with him, I could tell that he really cares about helping young people enter into the automotive industry.
It felt like a big step to go from school to work in such a big facility–the shop must have about 40 bays. I was nervous thinking I might be thrown in to do something I didn’t know how to do. But two foremen work with me every day, teaching me how to diagnose and fix things the right way on Lexus vehicles. They encourage me to figure things out on my own, so I develop confidence to step up to bigger jobs.
“We don’t just stick new technicians in the lube bay or have them do clean-up. We want to engage the right people and set them up for success. We expose them to the most complex issues we have. If they have the aptitude and willingness to work hard, we can help them become high-producing, flat-rate technicians in three years.”
At Herb Chambers Lexus, you deal with many electrical problems. Lexus vehicles have all kinds of cool sensors, like ‘lane assist’ and ‘parking assist’. You have to be able to read the wiring diagrams to understand them. They don’t expect new technicians to understand everything about electrical cars–I will eventually go to school for Lexus. But I don’t feel blindsided when the Foremen are helping me with electrical issues—I have been prepared for that.
I’m very thankful that Brian and Eric, the Service Director, gave me the opportunity to work here. I love and enjoy working with all of the people at the dealership. I came with the mindset that not everyone was going to be helpful—that it would be ‘every person for themselves’. I was surprised at how everyone here works together. It’s a very friendly environment.
Most cars are going to be electric or hybrid vehicles, so technicians will need to keep learning the electrical and electronics. If you’re not scared to adapt to changes in the industry, then it will be a good career for you. For me, the financial rewards and enjoyment of working in the automotive industry are well worth it.
If you really enjoy working on cars, and you want to learn how to diagnose, repair and maintain them professionally, go to MTTI. You could work at a dealership, but you could also choose to work at small shops or performance shops. Be confident and follow your heart. If you are passionate about working in the automotive field, and willing to keep learning every day, you will be successful.
“With the support of management, and equally as important, the buy-in from Senior Technician and Foremen, I’ve been able to demonstrate the value of recruiting, training, coaching and developing technicians right out of school. Having an open line of communication with Shawn’s instructor, Jameson has been valuable to both of us. Having a good pipeline to schools like MTTI to bring in new techs and investing in developing them, is essential to building a strong workforce for the future.”
Top: Service Tech, Shawn, at work in the Herb Chambers Lexus shop
Top Left: Shawn at the tire machine.
Right: Shawn, being taught telematics by Service Manager, Brian.
Bottom Left: Brian Matthews, Service Manager with Shawn & his mentor, Foreman Patrick.