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Graduate Stories

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Lexus of Edison Auto Tech Johnny Nieves Shares His Journey

"UTI helped me communicate with others and talk to them, because not a lot of people know about cars the way we do."


Johnny Nieves has loved cars since he was a kid. His father would work on cars as a hobby and taught Johnny how to work on them, too.

When Johnny wanted to attend Universal Technical Institute (UTI) to pursue an automotive career, his dad was supportive and encouraged Johnny to go for something he never did professionally. Today, Johnny works as an automotive technician at Lexus of Edison in New Jersey.

“I took that seed he planted in me and went on with my future,” says Johnny. “I love to do what I do. I never come in and say, 'Oh, I don't want to come in to work today.' I always come in and am happy to work.”

Johnny performs 21-point inspections and services on cars. He works near where he grew up, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Johnny met with his employer at a UTI career fair and had his close-to-home job lined up before he graduated.

Learning the Skills Needed to Succeed

Johnny attended the UTI Exton, Pennsylvania, campus and graduated in 2015. He took the Automotive Technology Program and the Toyota Professional Automotive Technician (TPAT) Program, a manufacturer-specific advanced training program providing hands-on training for Toyota and Lexus fleet.

Johnny pursued TPAT because import cars interested him. Johnny says taking the TPAT program helped him get his job, because his completion showed he cared about the product, he wanted to learn more and he already had advanced knowledge to do great work.

“I enjoyed TPAT the most,” Johnny says. “It was more hands-on than the other courses, and you learned new things you didn't learn in the basic course.”

While he was in school at UTI, Johnny worked two jobs, including one as a tire technician. He says the coursework he'd do during the day helped him at work and has been instrumental in advancing his current career.

In addition to the automotive skills Johnny soaked up at UTI, he says learning the life skills needed to thrive in the industry was valuable.

“UTI helped me communicate with others and talk to them, because not a lot of people know about cars the way we do,” Johnny says.

Tips for UTI Students

For students currently attending UTI, Johnny advises to take advantage of the school's partnership with Snap-on tools and to purchase as many tools possible. Johnny wishes he had bought more while he was at UTI.

Before you apply for a job, Johnny recommends to get in touch with UTI's Employment Assistance program. This support service department helped Johnny put together a strong résumé and helped him search for local jobs.

When students are considering employers, Johnny says they should take a tour of the shops they're considering and make sure they're a good fit.

“Ask questions of the workers who work there to see how they like it,” Johnny says. “That should help you see if you want to work there or not.”

For anyone considering whether or not to attend UTI, Johnny offers the following insights.

“I have friends who have graduated college who are still in the process of looking for a job, even though they have a degree,” Johnny says. “It's not that easy from what I hear.”

Johnny adds, “When I was going to UTI, it was fast-paced. I learned as much as I could, compared to some of my friends who are still in college right now.  It's really good going to a fast-paced school and learning as much as you can that can help you find a job after you graduate.”

To request information about automotive school, contact UTI.


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