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Wrenching Women Wednesday with Katie French, featuring Jaime Spedden

Each week for Wrenching Women Wednesday, we focus our efforts on shining a light on Women in Automotive and their journey’s in automotive. This week, we would like to introduce Jaime Spedden, Certified Hyundai Technician.

This is Jaime's story

I am a Certified Hyundai tech and I work on a lot of engines. I have replaced 31 already just this year (2022). I started working on cars because of the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie. I was a senior in high school when it came out and I drove a sporty compact car. The movie got me into modifications, which got me thinking about making money working on cars (for a living). I started out as an oil change technician for Walmart Tire and Lube Express in 2003. I also worked at a few other quick lube places, including a Sears Auto Center for a few years. Eventually, I was hired as a fleet mechanic for a construction company and I worked on their trucks and equipment for 11 years.

After that company shut down, I had to look for another job. I figured that since I had 17 years of experience, it should be easy. It definitely was not. I have a gender-neutral name, and I am guessing a lot of potential employers thought I was a guy because I would hear disappointment in their voice, or see it in their facial expressions all the time as soon as they figured out I was a woman. I had one person tell me I was a “vintage car mechanic” and “would never thrive in a modern shop”. It hurt my confidence a lot. It rattled me so bad that even once I did get hired at a small shop, I couldn’t do well because I was so worried that I wasn’t good enough. I ended up getting let go from that shop because of my lack of confidence after only a couple months.

But that turned out for the best- I landed my first dealership job and met the first boss who actually took me seriously from the very beginning. He treated me the same as everyone else and always encouraged me to learn and do more. He was more excited than I was about my first engine ticket because he was so proud of how much I had grown.

A family emergency forced me to move away from that job, but that job and all that I had learned there gave me the confidence to go to my current job and ask for employment without hesitation. They’re a good place, too, and I’ve been doing really well.

My biggest advice is don’t let it get to you. Any of it. The guys will say things that may bother you. Bosses or potential bosses will do that, too. Don’t allow it to shake you. If it’s bad, tool boxes have wheels for a reason.

Another piece of advice would be to get your foot in the door. Go start off as a lube tech somewhere. Don’t worry about “needing” school or tons of certifications. I never went to school. All the training I’ve had has been on the job. Be willing to start somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with starting out as a lube tech- in fact, there’s nothing wrong with staying a lube tech for your career if that’s what makes you happy.

Pursue your happiness and don’t let others take that from you.

About Katie French

Katie French is an Automotive Repair Expert at RepairPal. Her love for the automotive industry began at a young age learning how to fix bicycles and driving around the neighborhood in a pink Power Wheels Jeep. To pursue a career in the field, Katie attended NEIT for Advanced Automotive Technology out in East Greenwich, RI. Since graduating from the automotive program, Katie has worn many hats in the auto industry over the years, and has treated every day as a school day. She currently is working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Management with a concentration in Fleet Management from Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, MO. In her free time, Katie enjoys empowering women in skilled trades, Jeep builds, and spending time with her family.

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