Gateway Bronco is helping build the future of automotive restoration by providing young students the opportunity to build upon the past. Announced at Barret-Jackson Scottsdale earlier this year, the Gateway Bronco Innovators scholarship awards students $5,000 and helps offset living expenses for a summer internship at our company’s headquarters. It was important to us that this 8-week internship also aligned with each college’s curriculum. In addition to working on our classic Broncos, the interns attended industry events and company outings to develop both their network and their knowledge of the automotive industry.
We sat down with interns Christian Cabrera of the Carroll Shelby Automotive Program and Colby Marshall of McPherson College, to discuss their time at Gateway Bronco and the experiences they gained from the program.
Q: What Were You Hoping Yo Experience With This Program?
Colby: “I wanted to learn how to build a high-value vehicle in a short amount of time. Normally in the world of concours restorations it takes years to get to the finished product, but at Gateway Bronco you’ve figured out how to build it quickly and effectively.”
Q: Did You Have Any Expectations When Entering The Program?
Christian: “I figured that I would learn some new techniques and if I practiced them enough, they’d become good habits.”
Both students were impressed with Gateway Bronco’s facility upon arrival.
Christian: “I was quite surprised. The team had mentioned Gateway Bronco’s assembly line approach in our conversations. Seeing it in action though, is not something you see a lot of it’s very efficient and well thought out.”
Colby: “The sheer volume of builds at Gateway Bronco was insane to see in person. Knowing I had the opportunity to learn from the dedicated craftsman that work here was a great feeling.”
Q: Were There Any Surprises During The Program?
Christian: “I thought I was going to be in over my head, but this program really helped me apply what I’ve learned through my school curriculum and build on it.”
Q: What Have Each Of You Learned?
Colby: “Laying down a smooth clear coat. Before the internship I could lay down a clear coat knowing that I would have to sand and buff it, but here I took it to the next level. Now my clear coats are much higher quality, where sanding and buffing is more of an option and not something I use as a crutch.”
Christian: “I was excited that I was able to learn how to use different body work tools. At school, we learned how to do everything by hand and rarely use any tools. But here we get to use grinders and other power tools that expedite the process. I’m glad I know how to do it both ways now.”
After working at Gateway Bronco for 8 weeks, the students consistently said the program made them optimistic and more confident in their work.
Q: Has The Program Made You A Better Technician?
Christian: “Yes, it definitely did. I critique my own work a lot more now. I’m also better at meeting deadlines.”
Colby: “Larry has been a great teacher for me. He worked with me a lot of times one-on-one to help improve my painting skills and become more confident in my abilities.”
Q: Any Advice To Future Students That You Wish You Would’ve Known Before The Program?
Christian: “Be ready to work. This isn’t an internship where you do nothing but coffee runs and paperwork. It’s very hands on and helpful for young automotive craftsmen like me.”
Colby: “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun work. Be confident. Know what you can and can’t do because there is not a lot of time to redo things. Think about this as your hobby and not so much a job. You will spend a lot of time here, but you will enjoy it.”
Q: Do You Think Programs Like This Are Important?
Christian: “Though I had never worked at a body shop or as a mechanic, here it’s a quick hands-on experience where I was encouraged to do my best and that I would grow from that. After a couple of weeks, I could tell I was learning a lot. I got the hang of things and really enjoyed the work that I did.”
Q: Would You Recommend This Program To Others Who Want A Career In Automotive Restoration?
Colby: “Absolutely. I’ve been staying in touch with my school throughout the internship and they are blown away by the program and what I’ve been able to accomplish. Not only shadowing but doing my own work in the field is incredible.”
Christian: “It’s also great being able to go to events with the team to make industry connections.”
Q: What Was The Best Part Of The Experience And Some Key Takeaways?
Christian: “You guys. I made some great connections within the company, and it made the work a lot more fun.”
Colby: “I learned to adapt to change of pace. Be flexible with your workload. Time is money. Coming into it with an open mind, I never knew I’d learn the clear coat techniques that I did in an 8-week timeframe.”
The feedback from the first students to experience the Gateway Bronco Innovators Scholarship Program was exciting to hear. We can’t wait to see how they’ll apply the techniques and knowledge from our program in their own automotive career!
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