On December 7, 2018 the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) hosted The Main Event, a celebration of Minnesota’s retail automotive industry. As part of that event a program entitled Shop Talk was created and hosted by MADA’s Service, Parts and Collision Council. More than 60 High school students from nine school districts attended and participated in the program along with numerous dealership representatives. Shop Talk was divided into three segments: Nitro-X summer camp panel, industry panel with Q & A, and speed mentoring.
Students, their instructors and representatives learned about the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence’s (TCOE) Nitro-X summer camp. Panelists included Jessica Lipa – Director of Anoka S.T.E.P., Jonathan Friton – Ridgewater College Automotive Faculty, Matt Hoepner – St. Cloud Technical & Community College Medium/Heavy Truck Faculty, Theron Busse – Automotive Instructor at Anoka S.T.E.P, Chris O’Hara – Miller Auto & Marine Service Manager and Stephanie Zojonc, TCOE Director of Program Excellence. The panel focused on what explaining what the camp is, what kinds of activities students participate in, what the camp means to their community, educational institutions, and businesses and why they continue to be involved.
The industry representative panel spoke with the students about their career path – the types of positions they held previously and what they did to advance to where they are today in the automotive industry. They also answered numerous questions posed by the students regarding the automotive industry. The questions asked ranged from “how do I get your job?” to “what do you think of millennials?” Many of the questions played a part in “breaking the ice” between the students and the industry representatives that were also participating in speed mentoring during the event.
During the speed mentoring students talked with dealer representatives about career opportunities, work experiences, career goals, etc. This was an opportunity for students to get an insider’s look at what it takes to be successful in the automotive industry. The students also had the opportunity to give a modified resume to the dealership representatives. The resume outlined their experience in an automotive program, courses they have taken, if they are pursuing an automotive career, details about projects they have completed, why they are interested in the career, challenges encountered or faced regarding the industry, which brand(s) they would prefer and why, and what led them towards a career in the auto industry.
The event was a huge success and that was due to the hard work and diligent planning by the MADA Service, Parts & Collision Council, Alice Morse of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association, and Michael Lehn of the ASE Education Foundation.