Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Job #1 Auto Tech

I love Jeeps, off-roading, working on trucks with friends, and riding my ATV out at the mud pit. I have my own subscription to both Off Road and Four Wheeler magazine. My husband and I often debate the finer points of what a better rear-end would be for a certain truck, the pluses of a solid axle, or the gear ratio for the Jeep when we lift it.

Now... I'm a city girl. I grew up in Denver and went to college in the heart of the city. I enjoyed wine tastings, art gallery parties and the like. I moved to Florida when I joined the Domestic Peace Corps building houses for Habitat for Humanity for the year after college. A great set of rednecks took me under their wing, taught me all about four-wheeling, drinking beer and being a good redneck. I even pee in the woods now.

And don't think I'm being derogatory by using the term "redneck". One of my closest friends down here actually has NECK in red writing on the front windshield of his lifted Cherokee. It's a badge of honor in these parts. Anyway, boy if I didn't take to the whole thing like I'd been doing it all my life. And over the last few years, I've made some great friends, had more fun than I thought was possible, got into some trouble and learned a lot about trucks.

I enjoy the freedom of owning a vehicle that I can drive through almost anything and over nearly any obstacle. It's exciting and a huge adventure. I love knowing how something works and taking it apart and fixing it when it doesn't. I love the completely imprecise method of hitting something with a hammer when it doesn't fit. I like to weld stuff. And really, I don't know what girl wouldn't! Doing a build up on a Jeep requires more accessories than I can fit in my two closets! I own more spare car parts than shoes at this point (and that is saying A LOT!!)

I've always been told that people are happiest when they find something they are passionate about and turn it into a job. With a degree from a place like UTI, I could do a lot of things. I could be an auto tech at any shop. I would prefer to be a tech at a shop that does customizations on trucks and Jeeps, and maybe even builds their own truck to enter in truck shows and Jeep jambos. Maybe I could own my own customization shop one day, like a kick-ass chick in this area named Haley. Or, I could somehow acquire my dream job of working for an off-roading magazine. You don't just write - you do the work on the trucks, test them (i.e. off-road for a living) and then produce the article and pictures yourself. DREAM JOB!!! And with the degree in Journalism I already have, it would be a perfect progression of my career. I'd also like to start or work for a non-profit that offers free or low cost work on cars for people that need it most.

Some of the drawbacks: At least for a while, I will probably have to work at a shop gaining more skills after my schooling. The hours are long, it sucks when the bay doors are open and it's cold and wet, the attitudes of the guys can be not-so-nice, and will they hire me even though I'm a tiny girl instead of some big dude? I don't know. The other jobs I listed are much harder to come by... So that dream job might just be a pipe dream.

Some things I need to find out: How long will I have to pay my dues before I can get into a shop that does something other than just fixing cars? And how big is the sex bias in the industry?

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