Where to go from here?

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  • #888414

      I’m in a bit of a predicament, but I know there’s an answer somewhere. I’m 22, I have 3 classes left for my AAS in Auto Tech, and I work for a large, local dealership for about a year now. The problem is, I work in the Quicklube area of the dealership, and as such, don’t really see much use of the degree I’ve been working my butt off to obtain. I know how to wrench on cars, I do, and have done, everything from engine/transmission swaps, replacements, and rebuilds, to brakes, to electrical diagnosis, you name it. I have tools, I have knowledge, I have firsthand experience, but I have no “legitimate” professional experience, and nobody in my area is willing to give me a chance actually wrenching on cars. I’ve been turned down a couple times for the fabled “3 years experience”, but nobody is willing to take a chance.

      How should I proceed from here? My dealership has made it pretty clear to me that I’m on the rotten bottom of the totem pole and probably will not go on to be a line tech. I just feel stuck, and I’d rather not ride out the rest of my degree in the Quicklube. If it helps, I also plan on going right back into school for Diesel technology after graduating, as I see working for a truck fleet as a better career avenue than being an automotive technician.

      Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

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    • #891911

        I know this is an old post (7 months, wow), but there is an answer.

        If your service manager is a decent sort, see if you can get a sit-down with him to find out why you’re not going to move up even after getting your degree. I worked for a pretty good service manager at a Dodge dealership years ago that I’d sit down with at least every other week for a few minutes because I knew I wasn’t hitting all the targets I was supposed to. That was my first line tech job, and I was taking home just over minimum wage because I was flagging so few hours. It helped a lot, and in the end, we found a path forward for me and addressed my shortcomings. If your service manager tells you that the problem lies on your end, ask what you need to do to fix it (and do it!), if the problem is that the shop is fully staffed, start shopping that resume around, in most markets, there’s a shortage of technicians and someone will bite, but if you’re in an area near a military base or near a GREAT school (like TSTC in Waco, Texas) that turns out top-notch techs every six months, you’re probably going to need to commute to find work and/or more money.

        You could also work elsewhere in the industry for a bit. During different times in my 15+ years in the car business, I’ve found myself behind the parts counter or on the showroom floor selling cars. Believe it or not, I strongly feel doing both of those jobs made me a better technician when I got back into the shop. In addition to my A1, A4, A5, and A8 ASEs, I also have my P2 and parts certifications from three different OEMs. Parts guys treat you differently when they know that you have as much or more knowledge of them, and you’ll treat them differently when you know what goes into doing their job. Learning how to sell cars taught me the psychology of why people buy what they do. You can upsell services a lot more effectively if you understand that.

        If you’re going to stick with school to learn diesel, learn everything you can, then find a Ford dealership in oil country with a lot of customer pay work; you can damned near write your own check at that point.

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