When Katie Kelly talked about what she wanted to be when she grew up, her parents told her to act like a girl.
“I grew up on the east coast in the state of Maryland in a very strict religious home. It is because of that, that I had such a hard time choosing what I wanted to do for a career,” Katie recalls. “I grew up being told that, because I was a girl, I needed to do feminine things and thought that meant I needed to pick a career that was mostly involved in desk work.”
Katie has certainly shown her parents what it means to act like a girl. She has completed her associate’s degree in the Automotive Technology/ITEC program at Renton Technical College (RTC). And she has applied that training to work as a technician for a dealership and an auto service shop while going to school, and for an auto parts shop after graduation.
“The best part of my experience was being able to go into the program knowing literally nothing about how to work on cars and not be judged for it.” Katie said. “Instead my curiosity was nurtured and the instructor let me learn at my own pace, which tended to be faster than I intended.”
Katie chose to attend RTC because it was close to home, and was not “outrageously expensive,” she said. It also helped that the college offers several two-year programs that fit with her work schedule.
She admits that she had different expectations for the program, at first. She thought it would go deeper into some specialties and techniques. “That being said, it went over a very broad spectrum of the automotive field in a much less traditional classroom that I was accustomed to, and much more than I thought I would ever be able to learn,” she said.
Katie was impressed with the quality of the instructors.
“Jack Devine was my main instructor for most of the automotive course, having only one quarter without him. He did a great job of letting the students work at their own pace and did his best to teach at the level each student was at. He also let us do a lot of hands on work, helping when we needed him,” Katie said.
Overall, she was happy with the experience.
“It is a great school for anyone looking to start their career. They do a wonderful job of giving more than just the basics you need to get started, and a lot of the programs offer a co-op where you can work at a job in your field of interest.”
Katie is currently taking a maternity leave, but she hopes to use her training and skills soon to work her way into the dream job of restoring classic cars.