Kickstarting Your Automotive Career In The Real World: Meet Ashley Drake -
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Kickstarting Your Automotive Career In The Real World: Meet Ashley Drake

When Ashley Drake’s high school welding class got a hold of a car to work on, she knew she was going to work in automotive.

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As a student in an automotive, collision or diesel class, you’re probably thinking about how you can apply your skills in the real world. There are a lot of different jobs out there in automotive, but how does one get there?

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Tomorrow’s Technician talked to four people working in very different areas of automotive—two starting out as technicians and two business owners—to give you a look into what it took to get there and how you can, too. In our first story, meet Ashley Drake.

Ashley Drake

School: Universal Technical Institute

Job: Technician at Penske Truck Rental  

When Ashley Drake’s high school welding class got a hold of a car to work on, she knew she was going to work in automotive.

“I kind of just fell in love with tinkering and thought I might as well go to a technician school,” she recalls.

Drake was a hard worker even before college. She started working at age 15 while also helping her mom raise her two brothers, going to school
full-time, working on the family farm, participating in school sports and clubs, and doing community service.

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Originally from Colorado, Drake moved to Arizona to attend Universal Technical Institute in Avondale to study automotive and diesel technology
after graduating high school. There she continued working toward achieving her automotive goals, while working at a quick lube and Domino’s
pizza to help pay for her education. For Drake, the key was taking one day at a time.

“You got to keep moving forward,” she says.“You have to think about what your plan is for the future. You have to get somewhere and figure out how you can be better and help someone else get like that along the way.”

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Instructors and others took notice of her ironclad work ethic and Drake was awarded the 2017 Terry Emig Hero Spirit Award for her hard work and always putting others before herself. The scholarship issued by TechForce Foundation earned her $10,000 to put toward school.

Ashley Drake poses with family and Terry Emig during her graduation from UTI. Photo courtesy TechForce Foundation.

Getting a job was the next step. Drake found out about an opening at Penske Truck Rental while delivering pizza to Penske and when the company came to UTI to interview some students.

“I was nervous and applied anyway,” she says. Her best advice for interviewing? “Definitely get to know the company you are interviewing with—that’s probably the biggest thing.”Drake got the job at a location near school and has been working there since graduating in March.

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“Right now I’m in the process of moving back to Colorado, so I’ve been fueling the trucks and detailing the rentals, but I get to talk with the drivers every day,” she says. “Everyone becomes like extended family. It’s really cool every single day. It’s never the same. I could be constantly fueling every single day and never touch a truck.”

Once Drake is placed at the Colorado location, she’ll be working more on the trucks. But for now, hard work and patience are key.

“The people I work with know what I can do because I’m right there with them. I’m not afraid to do what they do I’m not afraid to help. I found I’m basically one of the guys. It just comes naturally to me. It’s more like being at home.”

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