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SamAdamsPaleAle
Detailer

Just got a summer internship at a mechanics shop. What can I expect?

Hey everyone! A couple of hours ago, I got the news that I'm allowed to intern at this local mechanics shop. I'm going to be fixing and EV swapping this early 60s Corvair Rampside, as well as more or less being a shop rat for the owners collection of Porsches and other great stuff. However, other than my shortly lived McDonalds gig, I have very little work experience, and very little mechanical experience. What can I expect?

10 REPLIES 10
jonZ
Instructor

Expect to be treated as an intern/newbie. Expect to learn. Pick up on all the information you can get from the guys, gals there. From your past posts you are into the Corvair. This might be your chance to really learn about your passion. Put in the work, pay attention, and by all means respect the Boss. The boss usually don't care to much about your knowledge of the subject or your opinion, but cares more about your dedication to learn and show your talents, skills and respect. The gift of gab won't get you very far but the gift of listening and learning will go a long way. ( the old adage...seek first to understand and then to be understood.) A shop rat?? In some way we all are. Hang in there, good luck and congratulations on the new gig.

Sajeev
Community Manager

What can I expect?

 

Expect to learn a lot about what it takes to work on old cars, to work with people who often butt heads with each other, and what it takes to deal with irate customers that don't care about your problems and just want their car back. Or want to pay less for it. Or both...actually, usually both at the same time. 

 

Sounds like you are finally at the right place for the beginning of a career in automobiles...wherever that may take you in the future! 

DUB6
Instructor

   I don't know the size of the shop or how many mechanics (nowadays, they might be called "techs" anyway), but the more there are and the more experienced they are, I would expect a bit of "hey, kid, you need ta _______" (fill in the blank with some detestable task), and probably some ribbing about being a newbie, a flunky, and a know-nothing.  But take it in stride and in pretty short order, I'm betting that they will be sharing tips and showing you how to actually do things.  First, it'll be things they don't want to do, but depending on your attitude, it'll progress to more pleasant things.  If you "open your ears and shut your mouth", keep your head down and show you're willing to work hard and listen and learn, I think you can expect things to be pretty smooth.

   The big thing - as has been alluded to by the others - is your personal attitude.  Show respect and the desire to learn, and ignore any negative incidents (they will be mostly testing you, not honestly jerking you around), and in 99% of cases, the "kid" will become "one of the gang" in pretty short order.  With the interest you've shown, and the beyond-your-years maturity you've displayed, I'm betting sooner rather than later.  Congrats on the opportunity and best of luck.

DUB6
Instructor

   Oh, and here's a "specific" thing to expect, if there's an old-timer on staff: the old "self-warming grease" scam.  The old guy calls everyone over to look at this new grease that, when exposed to air, self-heats to make it more fluid, in order to get into nooks and crannies.  But then it cools and becomes more viscous again.  He spreads some out on a can lid or piece of cardboard, and invites people to hold their hands out flat over it to feel the heat.  One or two others do, and ooh and aah over it.  Then it's your turn.  As you spread your hand and put it closely over the mess, someone grabs your wrist and plunks it down hard into the glob.  Everyone else guffaws - well, do you?  Or do you throw a fit?  The answer may determine a lot as to how well you're allowed to fit in with the gang.

   There are almost infinite variations of this gag, and nearly as many newbies who have fallen for it - my initiation into the ranks of apprentice house painters, for instance - but being aware of it doesn't mean your shouldn't play along.  As I say - it's a "test" to see what your reaction will be, and thus a measurement of how well they think they will be able to get along with you.  Here's a tip: ALWAYS carry an extra grease rag in your back pocket...you never know when you'll need to wipe some "warm grease" off!  😄

Guitar74
Gearhead

Reminds me of a kid who came into Ace Hardware after his first day at his summer construction job to get his hammer sighted in.

Guitar74
Gearhead

I worked for a glass company that did windows for homes for a high school summer job and they tried to get me with the "use the glass weld" when I broke my first window. I didn't fall for it because it was just a bottle of white out without a label. I did, however, take it upon myself to try it on a new young lady who took two hours trying to "white out" it back together. We told her the white would disappear as it dried. She in turn did it to the next new person. It was always fun and even the person whose expense the joke was at had a good laugh. Good times!

Guitar74
Gearhead

Man that is awesome! I am glad to hear it. I am not trying to discourage you. I would just start by saying that you have to crawl before you can walk, so don't expect too much too soon. Some of the more mundane tasks will actually help you out with the more complicated ones. Depending on the shop, and the guys that are full timers, I would say that things can go one of two ways. You will either have a group of guys that recognize that you want to learn and will help you on that path, or guys that will want to order you around and not really try and show you anything. The second group tend to be a LOT less skilled than the first, so remember that. 

 

I would also say to be prepared to work with alphas, so don't take things too personally if they like to verbally pounce. I would say that if that's the case, give it right back to them and let them know you are there to learn, not to be a verbal chew toy. There's nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. Just try to differentiate between clowning, constructive criticism, and douchery. 

 

I would also say to be prepared to deal with the type that are very meticulous about their cars. I.E., if you work on it, make sure it is clean when you're done. If you have to sit inside for anything, cover the seats and floors so you don't mess up seats, upholstery, carpet, etc. Actually, no matter what the shop, you should treat a client's car like it's your own. That will earn you a lot of respect with the shop owner and vehicle owners. Cover fenders, front fascias, anything and everything that you lean on/over. The first and usually constant rookie mistake I have noticed is that. 

 

Also, remember that fast does not necessarily mean good. Take your time and do your best to do things right the first time. Speed and efficiency will come with experience. 

 

I wish you the best young man.

jonZ
Instructor

Hey Yall, been awhile since I last posted due to the weather here on the gulf coast. Hurricane Zeta tore us a new one a few months ago and took out our electronics. Just recently we had another storm come in from the gulf and the lightning took it all out again. ( yea we're rural)  Hang in there Sam. You will find your footing. From what I've read in the previous posts, I can tell you're gettin' lots of good advice. Well you asked for it so now take it and move on. These guys here are sincere and knowledgeable. I see nothing but positive comments for you on this post. EXPECT to be the lower notch on the totem pole that you are carving out for yourself. Learn to get along, pay attention, keep your opinion to yourself and understand that you will be the Newbie, but also don't sell yourself short. Like Guitar says...Everyone crawls before they walk. Everyone who walks and falls down learns to dust themselves off and start all over again. Oh.. and Dubs experience with the self warming grease scam..... When I went into construction I was sent to the tool trailer for a beam stretcher....not the red one but the blue one! The joke was on me. If you act like you know everything you will be shamed. Take it on the chin and move on. Don't burn any bridges (Mc Donalds etc,,,,) You never know when you might have to pass over them again. In closing, read Sajeev's post again! Hang in there yall!!

DUB6
Instructor

   Wow JonZ, it sounds as if anything Sam might be up against will pale in what you and your neighbors have experienced.  Living in Idaho, we just don't understand the full impact of those storms and such that wreak so much havoc in other places.  I have been in Texas when the rain came down so hard I had to pull over and wait it out (hoping that I'd actually pulled over in an appropriate spot, as I couldn't see).  I've been in Minnesota when the snow piled up so fast I couldn't even walk around my rental cleaning it off before the other side was covered again.  I was in Oklahoma once where they had drained the motel pool in case the multiple tornadoes all around the area took a wrong turn into town.  But I've never been anywhere where I thought my domicile might be subjected to a hurricane!  Take Care...

   Okay, today I worked up a sweat cleaning out my engine bay, and went to a small gathering at a local drive-in.  I was actually bold enough to raise the hood 😅

   I invited a youngster (maybe 6 or 7) to sit in the car, and he messed around a bit and then asked me: "What's this for?"  I looked in and he was pointing to the window crank!  His dad said he'd never see one of those.  I showed him how it worked, and although it took both hands, soon he was rolling that window up and down like a pro.  Heck, I even promoted him to operating the wing window!  So Sam, don't ever be timid about asking someone about something you've never seen before or don't know how to work.  Ya might learn something!  

Guitar74
Gearhead

One of the big advantages of the Midwest, although the tornadoes I experienced, much like those you have probably lived through, are pretty scary in their own right. Was it 2004 that Florida got hit with all the back to back hurricanes? We got the residuals from that all the way in metro Atlanta and it was nasty. Another inland place that I lived in that got some bad tornado activity was Crossville, TN. I think one of the scariest things you will ever hear are the "air raid" tornado sirens that accompany the eerie quiet that settles in right before a tornado strikes. Kind of off topic, but I wouldn't sell the storm activity you experience you guys experience as less than. A tornado is just as deadly, but usually much quicker.

 

I love the window crank story. Reminds me of one of the classic car insurance company commercials. May have even been Hagerty.