From textbooks to hands-on education.
MONROE — Jonathan Vaughn isn’t the first person to intern at Monroe Automotive and Tire Service Center. And co-owner Harold Peters said he probably won’t be the last, either. “We’ve trained a couple of guys,” Peters said. “We enjoy doing it, seeing people get a job and move into the workforce.”
Vaughn, 19, of Loganville, is set to graduate from Gwinnett Technical College’s Diesel Technology Certification program in May, but the South Gwinnett High School graduate had to spend part of his final semester working in his chosen field. With internships scarce, he was unsure of where to find some experience inside an engine. But it just so happened his father was a regular customer at Monroe Automotive. “He asked if his son could be an intern as he wanted to get some knowledge on this,” Peters said. “He was green when he came in, but he’s learned a lot.”
Vaughn, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said he got a lot out of the internship. “The experience has been great,” Vaughn said. “The more I can do hands-on, the better.” Vaughn said his ADHD had him in remedial classes when he was young and jumped around between several different elementary schools. But he was back in regular courses before graduating high school and has learned to focus more in both his technical classes at Gwinnett Tech and in the internship. “You have to be disciplined,” Vaughn said. “I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it, as I’d never had any mechanical experience before, but I thought I’d try it.”
Vaughn quickly impressed his temporary employers at Monroe Automotive with his work ethic. “For a young person, he’s willing to work,” Peters said. Co-owner Ryan Noll agreed. “There was definitely a learning curve, but he wants to better himself,” Noll said. “He’s getting a hands-on experience.”
While Vaughn enjoyed his technical school training — in typical fashion, he often circled back to what he saw as the extreme value of attending a technical school, citing low costs and hands-on work – he agreed he got his best experience in the Monroe auto shop. “I like being able to work in the shop,” Vaughn said. “I like the teamwork.”
Vaughn did a variety of work during his month-long internship, from oil changes and tire rotations to taking in-depth looks at car engines under the guidance of Peters, Noll and the other mechanics at the shop. “It was a lot of hard work,” Vaughn said. “But they’ve changed me from a civilian to a mechanic.”
Although his internship ended last week, Vaughn plans to keep doing weekend work at Monroe Automotive until he graduates in May. In the meantime, he’s taking job interviews around the area, including local places such as Maxie Price Chevrolet in Loganville, and hoping to find something in his chosen field. “The job will not come to you,” Vaughn said. “You have to search for yourself.” Peters said he has confidence Vaughn will make his way into the workforce and do just fine. “I feel like I’ve helped him already,” Peters said.