KEYS TO SUCCESS
HTC automotive technology graduates find they don’t have to be mechanics or technicians to put automotive knowledge to work
At GE Capital Fleet Services in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, graduates of the Hennepin Technical College automotive technology program have found many ways to put their automotive skills to good use. Their experience provides a lesson in understanding that there is more to automotive careers than being a mechanic or technician. Whether their tenure is measured in a couple of years or a couple of decades, HTC graduates have found that the preparation they received has translated into career opportunities that took them beyond those roles.
“It’s a different way to use your skills,” says Steve Eggert, technical services leader at GE Capital Fleet Services, who graduated from HTC in 1982. He began his career at GE Capital Fleet Services shortly after graduation. In thirty years with the company, he has worked his way up through various positions to his current post. “I get to use my knowledge and background, without the hands-on work of being under a car all day long,” he explains.
GE Capital Fleet Services provides fleet management and maintenance solutions that help companies streamline their transportation needs. Their employees manage repair decisions and maintenance for fleet vehicles, as well as help improve fleet productivity.
“Our graduates find great opportunities at GE Capital Fleet Services,” says HTC Instructor Andy Thul, who is also an HTC graduate. “Having industry professionals from companies like GE Capital Fleet Services on our advisory committee helps keep the program aligned with the needs of employers, so our students have the skills employers want.” Currently, GE Capital Fleet Services’ Eggert serves on the program’s advisory committee, which keeps him connected with the college instructors and curriculum decisions.
Making a connection
“The teachers at HTC were really mentors,” says Mark Flugstad, customer service manager, who has 19 years of service with GE Capital Fleet Services. He notes that the one-on-one aspect of the training helped prepare him for success on the job. An early interest in cars pointed him in the direction of automotive classes in high school, so he continued on that path at HTC. Working in an auto parts store that also provided service, Flugstad gained experience in harnessing his automotive knowledge before joining GE Capital Fleet Services.
David Germann, a 24-year veteran at GE Capital Fleet Services, also got an early start on his automotive career. “In junior high school, I started working on small engines, and I moved on from there,” he says. As a senior at Edina High School, Germann found that he could take advantage of classes at HTC’s Eden Prairie campus, earning high school and college credit at the same time.
“The instructors really related to the students, and they had such a depth of knowledge that it motivated students to learn more and be able to play at that level,” recalls Germann. “I have to admit that I’m biased, but I think HTC provides the best automotive training.” He adds that because the program was cross-functional, students had opportunities to learn about welding and other aspects of automotive care.
“I don’t have to turn the wrench to use my skills,” says Germann in describing how he applies his knowledge as a resolution associate in maintenance.
Building a career
Ryan Snell has been a technical adviser at GE Capital Fleet Services for 18 months, managing repair decisions for fleet vehicles and recommending whether work should be performed. As a Wayzata High School student, he attended classes at HTC and then completed a class before beginning his career in the automotive industry. He got his start at Midas, and then moved on to work at dealerships.
“Hennepin Technical College gave me a good base and that gave me the confidence to start my career,” says Snell, adding that he then specialized and continued training to become certified in specific brands. He worked at Honda and Nissan dealerships prior to joining GE Capital Fleet Services.
Nicole McMillan, who graduated from HTC’s automotive program in 2007, gained experience during six years at a Twin Cities dealership prior to joining GE Capital Fleet Services in May 2013. Raised on her grandparents’ farm in Waconia, McMillan’s introduction to working on motorized equipment came at an early age. “I followed my grandpa around and watched whatever he was working on,” she recalls with a laugh. “Now he calls me for help.”
As a technical service advisor at GE Capital Fleet Services, McMillan says, “I talk to different people every day and work on different situations.” For her, that variety makes the work a good fit.
“GE Capital Fleet Services provides opportunities to move up and they encourage you to challenge yourself and learn about other functions in the organization,” says McMillan. Continuing her education, McMillan is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in operations management through Minnesota State University – Moorhead. HTC’s articulation agreement with MSU—Moorhead provided the opportunity to transfer her A.A.S. degree. McMillan hopes to graduate in summer 2014 and continue using her skills at GE Capital Fleet Services. She is encouraged by the many long-time employees who have built successful careers at the company.
Summing up what they have found at GE Capital Fleet Services, these graduates of HTC’s automotive technology program agree that when it comes to careers, there are many opportunities to put automotive skills to work. As they say, “There is so much out there beyond turning wrenches.”
Last updated by jhanson : 2016-08-18 15:49:14