From CREF Scholar to Apprentice Gerber
When Olivia Peterson, an accident repair student at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., Applied for a scholarship through the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) earlier this year, she had no idea how far this simple action would take her in a short period of time.
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Selected to receive a $ 2,500 scholarship from Gerber Collision & Glass, a division of Boyd Group, Inc., in partnership with CREF, Peterson expressed gratitude “for the investment in my future that this scholarship provides. By becoming an Auto Collision Technician, I hope that my actions will enable more women to pursue their own careers in the automotive industry, and this scholarship will ultimately help me make that dream come true.
A dream come true
Dreams have a funny way of coming true sooner than you expect – or at least, it was true in this case. Peterson applied for an internship with Gerber as part of their Technician Development Program (TDP) because she felt that “Gerber’s structured and reputable program would provide me with the best training for my new career in collision repair.”
âOlivia is a fantastic employee who continues to amaze us,â said Luke Martin, School Liaison Officer in the Technician Development Program for Gerber’s TDP. âHer work ethic is great and she has been an integral part of the Gerber team from day one. Her motivation for this role is something we hope to instill in all of our employees. “
Peterson has learned a lot and gained many new skills since joining Gerber.
âThe best part of TDP is the real world experience,â she said. âThere are aspects of the industry that are impossible to accurately replicate in a traditional classroom environment. There is no better way to learn accident repair skills than in the real world environment in which you will be performing the job.
âBeing an apprentice at Gerber gave me confidence in my ability to succeed in this industry. I started out with very little auto repair experience, and I’m amazed at the progress I’ve made and how much I’ve learned in such a short time. I have a very realistic expectation of how the industry works because I am immersed in it every day as an apprentice. The program teaches a wide variety of repair techniques that mirror current I-CAR standard procedures, allowing future technicians to be prepared to handle whatever comes their way.
National Apprenticeship Month
In honor of National Apprenticeship Month in November, Gerber featured several apprentices, including Peterson, on his social media platforms in recognition of their efforts and successes.
âThese students will be the next workforce and will be integral to keeping this industry alive and well,â said Martin. âThe demand for workers in the collision repair industry is steadily increasing, and the more relationships we can build to better support students, the better we can prepare for this growing demand. “
The accident repair industry certainly faces its share of demands, but Peterson embraces it all, for better or for worse, offering advice to fellow students and apprentices: “Don’t back down from any challenge!” Some repairs might seem quite intimidating, but these are the repairs you will experience the most personal growth on and serve you the most throughout your career.
Get involved with CREF
Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary crash repair training programs should contact Brandon Eckenrode, Director of Development, at (312) 231-0258 or [emailÂ protected]. Monetary donations can be made online.
The Collision Repair Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting collision repair training programs, schools, and students to create qualified entry-level employees and connect them with a range of career opportunities. For more information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit CollisionEducationFoundation.org.