Hamilton, Ontario — June 30, 2016 — It’s often said that the collision repair industry needs young, talented people to fill the shoes of those ready to retire. Just as important, younger people often bring a fresh perspective to the challenges that the industry is currently facing.
We’re pleased to present the following personal experience from one young person who is relatively new to the business of collision repair, Shannon Kresge. She has recently completed her first year of employment in the collision repair industry.
Kresge’s journey into the collision repair industry happened almost by chance. Educated as a marketer, she spotted a help wanted ad on Craigslist. From there, she secured employment and has since attended her first Women’s Industry Network (WIN) conference. Reading about Shannon’s experiences as a new member of the collision repair industry may serve as a guide on how to encourage other young people to consider collision careers.
Year One: My Journey with Collision Repair and Women’s Industry Network
by Shannon Kresge
One year ago I was walking across the stage at my college graduation. Like most new graduates, I had no idea what path I was going to take. Sure I had a nice shiny piece of paper that implied I was going to be a great marketing associate, but I wasn’t convinced.
For starters, being an impactful member of a marketing team takes actually having a job, which at the time I was lacking.
My mom’s nickname is the Craigslist Queen. She loves Craigslist. Her favorite weekend hobby is picking up random items off the side of the road, redoing them and then selling them on the site for a profit. Naturally, I commenced my job search by perusing the Marketing/PR tab on the Craigslist’s help wanted section.
About a week into my job hunt I came across a link, “Collision Center Seeking Marketing Representative.” Well, Marketing Representative sounded fitting for me, but I knew nothing about cars. When I say nothing, I mean nothing! My only experience with a car up until that point was a hand-me-down station wagon my grandparents had passed down that died within six months of me having it. The closest thing I had come to collision repair was my father taking the toilet plunger out of our bathroom to try and get an old dent out of my driver side door.
Within 10 minutes of seeing the post I sent my resume in. It never concerned me that I had virtually no knowledge of the industry. I’d always been up for a challenge and taking on this job would be just that; a challenge to learn something new.
Fast forward almost a year and I could not be happier with my decision to work in the collision repair industry. I have been able to contribute greatly to our social media pages, website, customer and insurance company relationships, event planning and more! I have learned more than I ever thought I would know about cars and have a continuous urge to learn more.
A few months ago I was lucky enough to meet Petra Schroeder, the new 2016 Chair of Women’s Industry Network. If my new passion for the collision repair industry wasn’t solidified before, WIN definitely did the trick. WIN is a network of mostly women and some men in the male dominated collision industry that provide support, encouragement, and opportunities for one another.
My bosses at H&V Collision Center were on board from the start. In the beginning of May 2016 I was sent down to Tampa, Florida for WIN’s Annual Conference as a first-year attendee. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was determined to make the most out of the experience.
The second I arrived at the conference I approached the first table I saw and introduced myself. I was only there for three days, so of course I wasn’t wasting any time! This was the common theme every day during the conference. I made it a point to sit with different people at all meals, trade business cards with virtually every attendee I spoke with, and make as many connections as I could.
Another opportunity I took advantage of was asking questions of all of the wonderful presenters. The conference was packed with informative seminars. Being the “Curious George” that I am, I stood up after almost every single presenter to ask additional questions. I was determined to come home with as much feedback as possible. Who better to get that from than seasoned professionals in the collision industry?
Last but not least I took the time at my first WIN Conference to join their committees. In my opinion, the best way to take advantage of being part of a network is to become as involved as possible. Of course I asked questions about the different committees and read the descriptions thoroughly. I then chose to be part of four committees. I may have gone overboard, but I recommend at least joining one or two. My mindset was to pick two committees that I was confident I could make an impact in, and two committees that I thought I could learn new skills from.
My experience at the WIN 2016 Educational Conference was indescribable. I was able to meet numerous other women and men that deal with the same pleasures and challenges that I go through every day in the workplace. WIN has refreshed my confidence, passion, and drive for greatness in my career. Needless to say, if the collision repair industry becomes your path like it has mine, WIN might be the right move for you!
For more information on WIN, please visit womensindustrynetwork.com.