Friday, July 5, 2019

Ignacio Garcia: Shifting into a new career thanks to Cuyamaca College


Ignacio Garcia
Ignacio Garcia found the perfect career thanks to Cuyamaca College’s award-winning Auto Technology program.A graduate of Granite Hills High School, Garcia, 27, came to Cuyamaca College after leaving Cal Poly Pomona as a junior and moving back to El Cajon to help take care of his mother, sister and brother after his parents divorced. Garcia was working for the El Cajon Recreation Department while taking on random side jobs when he enrolled in Cuyamaca College’s Auto Technology program. 
“I like working with my hands and I’ve been working with cars all my life, so I figured this would be a good fit for me,” he said.
It was. Just weeks into his studies at Cuyamaca in 2015, Garcia signed up for the Ford ASSET program (ASSET is an acronym for Automotive Student Service Educational Training) at the suggestion of program coordinator Brad McCombs. Unlike most training programs, ASSET and GM ASEP (Automotive Service Educational Program) students are employed in the industry at sponsoring Ford, Lincoln and GM auto dealerships while they’re learning. 
Garcia was assigned to El Cajon Ford. He started doing oil changes and other routine maintenance, but his assignments became far more complex after a scholarship from the San Diego chapter of the Early Ford V8 Foundation paid for a new set of automotive tools. His bosses at El Cajon Ford were impressed by his drive. First came a job rebuilding the engine of a Ford F350 pickup. More complex tasks soon followed. Today, he does a little bit of everything, from working on engines and transmissions to replacing and repairing batteries powering electric and hybrid vehicles. 
Thanks to multiple certifications from the ASSET program and his associate degree in automotive technology, which he secured in June 2017, Garcia earns more than $60,000 annually.
Garcia is not an aberration. According to Ford Motor Co., 99 percent of ASSET graduates get hired at their sponsoring dealerships. And by the time graduation rolls around, nearly all the trainees are already employed full-time.
He has nothing but praise for the instructors at the Automotive Technology program.
“They want to see you learn. They want to see you get a good job. They’re not just there for a paycheck,” Garcia said. 
Cuyamaca College’s automotive technology program enrolls an average of 300 students each semester, and it is highly regarded not only because of its industry-recognized certifications, but also because all of its instructors are polished professionals.
“Cuyamaca’s auto tech program is a great place to get started. For someone who has no experience working with cars, you’ll learn the basics in no time,” Garcia said. “For someone who wants to build on the skills you already have, you’re going to get the kind of training that can get you anywhere.”