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Marissa Andrews: Making Waves In the Marine Industry

"MMI was a good way to get your foot into the door. I hand no mechanical background whatsoever. I wanted to give it a try and they were able to teach me the basics."

 

Through UTI, people with zero mechanical knowledge or experience can prepare themselves for in-demand positions in the automotive, diesel, motorcycle, marine or collision industry.

The ease of access to technical training through UTI is helping reshape these industries by diversifying roles that are traditionally male dominated.

For example, when most people think of a service technician (mechanic), they might picture a grease covered man working on cars in a cluttered garage.

What they probably don’t picture is a young woman working on boat engines at Walt Disney World. It’s an image few people expect, and in fact, it’s not what Marissa Andrews expected she’d be doing either.

“I had no mechanical background whatsoever. I’ve been into mechanical stuff for a while. I always took an interest in it. I wanted to give it a try,” said Andrews.

She could have pursued a career as an aerospace technician, like her father, but when she found out about UTI’s Marine Technician Specialist Training Program she decided to move from New Hampshire to Orlando, Florida to test the waters.

“I figured it was a one year program. Not a lot of time wasted on it if I didn’t take to it. But I did!”

Andrews enrolled at Marine Mechanics Institute (a division of UTI) in 2016. As her commencement date approached, she grew steadily more anxious about the possibility of working in a male dominated field.

Even though she is a self-described “tom boy” who grew up playing roughing with her brothers and male cousins, Andrews wondered if her classmates and future co-workers would be as accepting.

“At first it was pretty scary, but when the first day of school rolled around there was actually two other girls in my class…and everyone was pretty well mingled together.”

Andrews’ worries quickly faded as she bonded with her classmates, both male and female. The distinctions between the boys and girls became less pronounced as they advanced together in their knowledge and technical skills.

Over the course of a year, Andrews learned more than how to fix boat motors. She learned that she was a talented technician with immense career potential.

MMI’s relationships with the leading marine technology companies helped Andrews build connections at Mercury Marine. She accepted a service technician position at one of their dealerships, and her first day on the job was an eye-opening experience.

“It’s a different pace once you get out of the school…it’s a whole other world,” said Andrews. “Once you get in the dealership, if you didn’t want it bad enough you’re not going to go very far.”

While MMI’s instructors and staff do their best to prepare students for the real world, it’s ultimately up to the students to determine how successful they’re going to be. The standards set in the classroom are meant to prepare them for their future work environment.

Andrews was grateful for the professional skills she developed at MMI. They helped her remain confident during her chaotic first days as a full-time technician, and they guided her to greater career opportunities with Mercury Marine.

“MMI was a good way to get your foot into the door. I hand no mechanical background whatsoever. I wanted to give it a try and they were able to teach me the basics.”

Today, Andrews repairs motors for Walt Disney World Resorts’ fleet of watercraft. She prefers the pace of working at a resort over a dealership, but explains that it is still challenging work.

“You are always learning something new. You have to have an open mind and be prepared for anything to be thrown at you. You need to have a good work ethic. You got to want to get dirty. It’s not a clean job!”

Even though she’s the only woman in her shop, Andrews doesn’t feel isolated. As far as she’s concerned, she’s just part of the team.

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