West Windsor, N.J. – The Automotive Technology program at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has a great new friend in the Haldeman Auto Group. And MCCC students are benefitting.
Thanks to a partnership that began last summer, qualified MCCC Automotive students are completing the program’s internship component at Haldeman’s Lexus, Ford and Subaru dealerships. Students are paid, receive tools, and earn scholarship funding.
Student Dhruv Singh, who first studied mechanical engineering at another college before deciding that his real passion lay in the hands-on repair of vehicles, has been pursuing an internship at the Haldeman Lexus of Princeton Service Center in Lawrenceville. He is working alongside some of the area’s best auto technicians.
Singh has also been taking a full schedule of courses at MCCC that continue to provide the fundamentals he puts to use on the job.
Singh admits that his schedule is a little tight. “It keeps things interesting. I work in the shop four days a week and go to school two days. It’s a full schedule, but I love what I am doing so that makes it easier.”
Haldeman Lexus Vice President Brian Bennett says the dealership is committed to education for its workforce and training students is a natural extension. “Good automotive technicians are hard to find. Haldeman Auto Group provides its full-time technicians with 60 hours of technical training and certifications annually. Developing a pipeline of qualified technicians is very appealing to us.”
MCCC faculty member Jason Evans, coordinator of the Automotive Tech program, is equally gratified. “Mercer is a great place to get a foundation in the classroom and through hands-on assignments in our Automotive Technology Lab, which is designed like a real dealership service center – with state-of-the-art equipment, late-model vehicles, and laptop computers with the latest diagnostics software."
But, Evans notes, the required internship at a dealership or an independently owned shop is critical. “We are so pleased that Haldeman is working with our students in a real world setting. And, if the internship leads to a job at Haldeman, that’s a great outcome for everyone.”
Bennett notes that Haldeman was already a strong MCCC supporter as the main sponsor of the college’s annual golf classic for student-athlete scholarships. “It’s a good feeling to be working with the local community college and its students,” he said.
Haldeman’s generosity is clearly appreciated. “When I first started working at Haldeman, one of my supervisors told me that I had to be willing to work hard,” Singh recalled. “I have, and it’s been worth it. The internship allows you to learn things that it would otherwise take many years to learn. I did not expect an opportunity like this when I came to Mercer.”
Singh, who plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in Business and one day open his own garage, enthusiastically recommends MCCC’s program. “I would definitely tell other students to come to Mercer. There’s no substitute for the foundation the professors provide in the classroom and in the auto lab. They give you a great skill set and prepare you for what’s to come in your internship.".
Evans adds that the program’s track record speaks for itself. “One hundred percent of our grads are employed full-time upon graduation. And, having your associate degree means higher starting salaries and opportunities for career advancement.”
Additionally, MCCC’s tuition costs are significantly lower than those of for-profit programs that offer certificates of completion and not an actual degree. Applicants may be eligible for federal and state financial aid, tuition benefits for veterans and funding through New Jersey’s new Community College Opportunity Grant program.
Mercer offers three tracks: Mopar Career Automotive Program, sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Subaru University, sponsored by Subaru of America, and the Comprehensive Automotive Technology program. Prospective students can learn more by calling 609-570-3776 or visitingwww.mccc.edu/automotive.
Haldeman is joined by other dealerships that provide intern opportunities for MCCC students. Among them are Reedman Toll in Langhorne, Pa.; Route 33 Nissan in Hamilton; Hamilton Honda; Princeton BMW in Hamilton; Princeton Honda; Performance Dodge in Woodbury; Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram City in Burlington; and Route 1 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Lawrenceville.