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7 Things This Instructor Wishes He Knew When He Was in School

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute Dec 13, 2018 ·
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Sean Gagnon is an Automotive Technology Instructor at Universal Technical Institute Lisle in Lisle, Illinois. Just like any of us, there are things Sean would do differently if he could go back in time. 

Sean started out with a passion for solving problems. In the beginning, it was bicycles. He'd take them apart, personalize the parts, and then put everything back together. In high school, he didn't flip burgers or get a job at the mall. He worked at Firestone, where he did oil changes and rotated tires. Then he went to UTI and eventually he took the Volvo Manufacturer Specific Automotive Training (MSAT) program, which he believes opened up all kinds of possibilities for his career as a technician.

He liked UTI so much that he eventually found his way back, but this time as an instructor. Yeah, he'd do some things differently along the way if he had the chance.

This is a letter he wrote where he offered advice to his younger self... along with the next generation of technicians as they get ready to learn the tools of the trade.

Former UTI student and is now a UTI Lisle Automotive Technology Program Instructor

1) Don’t overthink it! Slow down, simplify your thought process

If something seems really complicated, chances are, you trying to move too fast through the material. Don’t jump into any job or task without fully understanding WHY you are doing WHAT you are doing.

2) Focus on understanding one theory or principle at a time

If you break down each operating system into separate parts, and you familiarize yourself with each one of those individual parts, it can be more approachable. Once you do that, it can be a lot easier to understand how all of the parts in that system work together.

3) Treat “School” as “Training”

If you keep that mindset, you will have an easier time connecting the classroom material with work being performed in the lab. The lab is where theory is turned into practice.

Practice is important. My Dad would always say, “Only perfect practice, makes perfect.” You need to make sure you are practicing the proper techniques. There will always be people telling you about the “faster” way to do something. If you focus on doing the job right, with repetition, speed will come.

4) You need to allow yourself time to succeed

Becoming a great technician doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.  Just as if you were learning to play an instrument, it takes practice. You wouldn’t pick up a pair of drum sticks for the first time and expect to play all of your favorite songs right? You need to learn the basics, and you need to practice. Diagnosing and repairing cars is a skill. To be great, you need to practice.

5) Set expectations for yourself

If your expectations are not met, stop and ask why that is. Maybe you are struggling with a certain subject. Try to find out why. What is it about this subject that you don’t understand? Or, you may need to remind yourself of WHY you signed up for this type of training?

6) Turn your weakness into a strength

If you are having a hard time understanding a subject, don’t dismiss it as not being important. Don’t run from it. Turn it into your strength. A good technician is well rounded in all aspects.

7) This brings me to my final bit of advice... ask questions

If you are not sure about something, ask questions. Whether it’s during a classroom discussion, during lab or out in the shop. You should never hesitate to ask questions.

Are you interested in becoming an Automotive Technician or Mechanic?

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