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Utah native Derrick Sorensen is no stranger to the racetrack. As a graduate from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI), Derrick has paved his own way in the industry and is a true example of what it means to follow your passion.
Whether it was when he discovered his love for motorcycles while in high school or working for the Suzuki racing team, it’s safe to say that Derrick has put 100% into everything he sets his mind to. His passion, commitment and hard work have taken him a long way—at just 21 years old, he’s already accomplished big things in his career!
So how did Derrick go from MMI grad to a successful professional working in the field? Read along as Derrick shares his story and valuable advice he’s learned along the way.
Derrick has been interested in motorcycle racing and riding from a young age. “I was always obsessed with something with two wheels and jumping,” he says.
However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he started to consider motorcycle mechanics as a potential career path. During this time, his 250 blew up—and he knew he needed professional help to put it back together. He went across the street to a local shop to learn how to do the repair, and ended up getting to know the owner and was inspired by his story of how he got into the industry.
When Derrick’s junior year of high school rolled around, he enrolled in auto shop and competed in the SkillsUSA competition. He competed for motorcycle repair and ended up getting third in the state, receiving a partial scholarship. Derrick went on to compete again his senior year and finished second in the state, receiving more money toward his scholarship.
One day when Derrick was browsing online, he clicked on a Facebook ad for Universal Technical Institute. After looking into the school and connecting with an admissions representative, he knew MMI Phoenix was the right choice to put him on the path to the career he dreamed of.
After graduating from high school, Derrick packed up and headed to Phoenix. Like many students, traditional school wasn’t Derrick’s ideal way to learn. When speaking about MMI, he shares, “It was refreshing to be doing something hands-on, especially something that I was interested in.”
While Derrick didn’t love high school, he found his place at MMI. Up until this point, becoming a motorcycle mechanic was just an idea—but as soon as he arrived at MMI and began his training, this idea started to become a reality.
Throughout the course of Derrick’s program, he held himself to a high standard. Once he found his motivation, he was unstoppable. “I was strict with myself and was determined to be the best in the class,” he says. He sat in the front of the class and took his education seriously, always keeping his end goal in mind.
Derrick graduated from MMI on a Thursday and was working at the track with the Rockwell Kawasaki team the very next day. While Derrick has always been mechanically inclined, he has his education from MMI to thank. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without MMI,” he says. The core knowledge he gained gave him the foundation he needed to pursue a successful career. “From day one all the way until I graduated, there was not a single day that I didn’t learn anything,” he continues.
In June of 2018, Derrick decided to take his career back home to Utah. He joined the HEP Suzuki race team for Daytona super cross, flying to races on weekends. He also currently works with a local pro who owns a training school and steel business. Derrick’s day-to-day routine always looks different, as he helps both businesses doing mechanic work in addition to welding and fabrication. At the training school, he works with aspiring technicians and passes on his knowledge to the next generation. He’s a jack of all trades!
So what does it take to succeed in the motorcycle and racing industry? Derrick advises those who have a passion for this industry to always be working on something. If you have someone in your life who is a mechanic, spend time shadowing them, asking questions and getting a feel for what it’s like to work in the field.
Derrick also emphasizes the importance of gaining hands-on experience. “You can read about something in a book, but until you’ve done it, there’s always something that doesn’t go according to plan,” he says. Having hands-on experience and working through challenges can give you a competitive advantage.
If you’re wondering how to get into motorcycle racing, Derrick says it’s important to be willing to invest the time and resources to make connections and get involved. Throughout his journey, Derrick reached out to as many people as possible and was even willing to volunteer his time without compensation to gain experience. He jumped on every opportunity that came his way and learned by surrounding himself with the best people in the industry. “Talk to as many people as possible and get involved, whether it’s attending local races or going to super cross when it comes to town,” he says.
Derrick has set his life up in a way so that work doesn’t feel like work. He gets to pursue his passion and do what he loves every day! His journey shows that with hard work and dedication, it’s possible to create a career you love.
Thinking about pursuing a career in the motorcycle industry? Learn how Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) can get you there. Request more information today!
John Maxwell knows just about everything a Harley-Davidson enthusiast needs to know. He's a YouTube sensation and a MMI Orlando grad. This is his story.
Keino Sasaki owns Keino Cycles custom motorcycles in New York. He's also a graduate of Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. Read about his journey.
Lance Smeal is a graduate of the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. He's also an entrepreneur and the owner of L-N-C Cycle Repair in Cottonwood, Arizona. This is his story.
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12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI’s Custom Training Group on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.
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