KCC and Lithia Motors Partnership Creates Internship Opportunities

Klamath Community College and Lithia Motors are excited to announce a new partnership that will place nine KCC students at three dealerships in Klamath Falls.

Students who are accepted in this new internship program will gain hands-on, real-world experience working as automotive technicians at the Lithia Toyota, Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge, and Lithia Ford dealerships.

“Students accepted into the internship will be supervised by master certified technicians. The real-world experience they gain at the dealerships will be the foundation of their future careers,” said Chris Stickles, dean of career technical education programming at KCC. “This unique partnership with Lithia will benefit our students and our community.”

KCC Automotive Program Lead Anthony Brown said the students will work at the dealerships Tuesday and Thursday each week and will earn 10 college credit hours of lab. The students will start Jan. 7, and the internships can last until the students complete the automotive degree program.

“Although they will enter the internship program with varying levels of experience, our goal is to have them exit the program as professionals prepared to enter the workforce and to land a job that pays a living wage,” Brown said.

Steve Hamre, a national automotive technician recruiter for Lithia, said the auto repair industry is losing about 70,000 auto technicians annually, but only hiring about 40,000 workers each year. “This is one of those industries that is growing very quickly, and our need for techs is growing with it,” Hamre said.

At the dealerships, students will be assigned a mentor and learn skills such as tire mounting and balance, how to perform a multi-point inspection, and how to assess electrical diagnosis and repair.

“The interns will learn an array of skills ranging from basic tune-ups to air conditioning repair and classifying code retrieval,” Brown said. “The skills they learn will be valuable to any employer in the auto industry.”

Matt Snipes, service manager for Lithia Toyota and Dodge dealerships in Klamath Falls, said a successful entry-level candidate is someone who is willing to show up and work hard.

“You are paid by what you can do, how fast you can do it, and how good you can do it. You have to be self-
Internship opportunities for automotive students created through new KCC, Lithia partnership motivated. That’s really what I am looking for,” Snipes said.

Lithia Motors has 187 stores throughout the United States. Hamre said although the focus of the internship is auto repair, many other opportunities exist at Lithia and the industry, as well.

“There are many different career paths entry-level employees and interns can take. Some may find that they really enjoy working on cars, others may thrive on interaction with people. We have employment needs ranging from auto techs to service advisors,” Hamre said. “Lithia has a lot of family-wage jobs where people can support a family, be happy, and have a good life.”

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