I enjoy talking to a lot of parents and young adults about careers in the automotive industry. Having spent my entire life tied to the industry both personally and professionally, I have a unique perspective in this area. The conversation always leads to the question, “how do I get started?”
Special Note: After you read the details of our 2021 camp planning below, check out the details of the 2023 Full Tank Auto Camp.
The Car Hobby Starts the Process
Fortunately, many resources are available to anyone interested in entering the car hobby. This includes website forums, YouTube videos, organizations like Hagerty Insurance’s Automotive Youth Programs and blogs like Vehicle Nanny.
All of these sources provide great exposure to this wide world of car collecting and related activities, however, the path to an automotive career is not as defined.
Automotive Career Exploration
Many educational centers (universities, colleges and tech schools) offer programs that can help start a high-schooler on their way to a rewarding career. The challenge is in how to know what careers are available, and what programs are ideally suited to a student’s interests and abilities.
When I was teen, I was a solid car nut so I knew I wanted a career in the industry. Sadly, high school counselors were not well informed in my day (here’s hoping the internet has helped them since!). Since my Dad was a mechanical engineer at GM, I thought that was my way into a car company. I was pretty good at math, but once objects started going into motion (ie. Physics) I feared I was done. Had I known about sales and marketing careers, I would have saved a lot of time (and money) in those first years of college.
What to do this summer?
How many of you attended a summer camp as a kid? Was it all fun and games, or did you learn a new skill? I remember music camps and sports camps as a kid. These were fun and taught good personal skills. I’m not sure learning how to play first base translated into a long term life lesson (though I know one sports nut who may disagree).
I’ll be the first one to say that I am not aware of many that have a career focus, which is why I am so excited about one I discovered a few months ago.
Enter Northwood University
Northwood Univerity is a private university in Midland, Michigan. They have around 2,000 students for a wide variety of marketing and management programs. Two of those programs are dedicated to the automotive industry: Automotive Marketing and Management and Automotive Aftermarket Management.
A mutual friend introduced me to the department chair of the Automotive Marketing and Management program at Northwood University, Elgie Bright. Elgie is also a former GM employee who found his calling as an educator. I did not know Elgie very well when I was at GM, but we are becoming fast friends now!
Elgie connected me with a team at Northwood that was developing an automotive summer camp (in partnership with the Midland County Educational Service Agency) for kids 12-18, and asked if I would be interested in supporting the camp. The more I learned about this program, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Full Tank Automotive Summer Camp
A team of Northwood University educators and students, along with a few outside automotive experts are participating in a three-day camp at Northwood from June 29 – July 1, 2021.
The camp will help students (age 12-18) explore careers throughout the automotive industry, including, design, development, manufacture, sales, marketing, service, and aftermarket. The camp will be held at Northwood University. It will likely be limited to 25 participants, but final attendance will be determined based on registration.
In short, the camp will take the attendees from automotive history through the marketing, sale and service of vehicles in the modern day environment. Plant and dealership tours will take place, depending on COVID safety measure requirements at the time of the camp.
Vehicle Nanny Participation
This is the really fun part for me. I get a chance to share a short automotive history with the students at the beginning of the camp. This is an important first step to understanding where this great industry came from, as well as where it is headed. Getting grounded in the past helps inspire the future.
Along with that, Hagerty Insurance has agreed to support the historical foundation of the camp through their Driving Experience activity. The following description of this activity comes from Hagerty:
Driving Experience is designed to teach young drivers, ages 15 to 25 how to operate a manual transmission – all while behind the wheel of exciting classic cars. Some of the classic cars that have been available to drive include a 1928 Packard Phaeton, 1930 Ford Model A, 1955 Porsche Continental, 1963 Corvette split-window coupe and many others!
Imagine having the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and smells of an older car in the same week as an electric vehicle. This is pretty good stuff to me, and really hope the kids like it as much.
Update (March 2023): 2021 Camp and Beyond
Since this article was published, the 2021 camp was a great success. We repeated it in 2022, and are developing an expanded summer camp for 2023. Check out the early details of the 2023 camp HERE.
You can learn more about the 2021 and 2022 camps below.
Related articles: Automotive Summer Camp: 2021, Automotive Summer Camp: 2022
Please contact me either through the Vehicle Nanny Facebook Page (private message) or by email (email@example.com) if you have any questions, or have a student interested in future camps.
Supporting the Hobby
This summer camp is a great example of why I created Vehicle Nanny, and is a big step in exposing young enthusiasts to careers in automotive.
Programs like this are directly supported through the sale of items in the Vehicle Nanny Merchandise Store. All proceeds go directly to the Hagerty Automotive Youth Program and events like the Northwood summer camp, so I hope you can find a fun item for yourself that also supports our budding car enthusiasts.
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