How long have you worked as an auto technician?
Christina has been working 4 years and an auto technician. She has worked at three different repair centers. She started out working at a local Hyundai dealer doing oil changes. She is grateful that Hyundai help build her confidence enough to apply to a high-performance shop where she got to work on Lotus and Tesla cars. She has moved on and is now working on Heavy Duty Trucks doing suspension and brake work.
Did you attend Trade School?
Christina started out her career as an automotive technician by attending the automotive trades program at College of the Desert. She feels she acquired the basic skills for vehicle maintenance and repair. With the help of a scholarship from WiAC: Women in Auto Care, she was able to finish and fine-tune her automotive studies at Mt. San Jacinto College.
The scholarship also paid for a trip to AAPEX / SEMA and she later got to attend a WiAC leadership conference where she met multiple women leaders from the Auto Care industry that continue to help and encourage her today.
Did trade school prep you for working in the real world??
Back in the 2010s, an instructor guided Christina through the curriculum to acquire essential vehicle maintenance and repair training. “I was encouraged to tinker and experiment. This gave me the space to fail and overcome my shortcomings, which gradually built up my confidence.”
Did you have a Mentor that helped you along your journey?
Christina says that she has had multiple mentors. “My mentors have been a huge motivator for me and have opened up a lot of doors for which I’m grateful,” says Christina. She was introduced to a group of female technicians who teach technical automotive classes to other women called ‘Women in Machines’. Christina was asked to teach a hands-on basics of brakes, under-hood, and drivability at their conference. She met a diverse group of talented women. Christina speaks highly of one master restoration specialist who encouraged her to stretch her passion for car care by rebuilding each to specification. She loves teaching and hopes to pursue a full-time teaching job later in her career.
Christina feels that mentors are important. “Seek a mentor who you can trust. Not just anyone”, explains Christina, “but someone who offers unconditional support.”
What ASE Certifications do you have, and do you feel having them is important
Christina feels that having ASE certifications allows someone to distinguish themselves. ASE symbolizes accomplishment and pride and that it is “a badge of honor” to have your certifications. Preparing for these exams takes a lot of work as they are certainly not easy. She feels studying for the tests deepens your field of study and that having your ASE certifications tells an employer that you take your craft seriously and will go the extra mile.
Did she ever get discouraged?
Working at a shop that had low morale and low pay led her to doubt herself and question whether she was cut out for wrenching cars. She left the industry for a while, but friends kept calling Christina to work on their cars. She did not want to lose the ability to work on cars, so she networked with other technicians and found some leads through a Facebook group called ASOG: Auto Shop Owners Group. Eventually Christina found a structured work environment and growth opportunities with Les Schwab Tire Center, that has over 500 locations in the US. She was at first hired to change tires, but has moved on to brakes, suspension work and alignments.
What are some of the challenges of being a female working in an industry where 98% of the techs are male?
“People always asks that question, and I really don’t know how to answer it.” Christina feels that has not been a challenge for her at all. She doesn’t find herself uncomfortable working in a shop full of men. “Because I feel just as capable as they are, I’m treated as such. No matter where I go, I always feel that I belong.”
What are your words of wisdom for a new auto technician?
“Take the long view”, says Christina. “Career choices are plentiful and not just limited to one track”. Whenever the day comes that she gets tired of wrenching cars, she knows that she would have the opportunity of becoming a manager and later an automotive instructor. “It’s so do-able to advance in the automotive industry.”
Does she feel that continuing education is important for technicians?
“I encourage people to work while studying. Try to get your hands on anything to help you learn. Education is so important.” Especially with the continual emerging technologies that are more and more complex.
What is her favorite vehicle to work on?
Her favorite vehicle to work so far is a Lotus, and her favorite Jobs include tires, brakes, steering, suspension, and alignments.
What does she enjoy most about being an automotive technician?
"Having a job that challenges me so I can become more skilled and knowledgeable. I really enjoyed teaching hands-on classes and I hope to become a full-time automotive instructor one day."