“This was the Perfect Internship for Me”: Skylar Burless’ Story

As a third year Northwood University student studying Automotive Marketing and Management, Skylar Burless knew she needed an internship.

…which is why she was worried.

“I was definitely worried about getting an internship because I heard other people at school say they didn’t do much or there wasn’t much for them to do as an intern,” she said.

An internship is a requirement as part of the school’s four-year Bachelor/MBA track, so Skylar needed to secure a solid spot at a strong company. The experience can vary based on where you intern.

But in that regard, Skylar didn’t have to worry. Not one bit.

At the recommendation of friend and fellow Northwood student Savannah Sprague, Skylar joined Savannah as part of Garber’s summer 2023 internship program.

The experience at Garber was much different than those who told Skylar they didn’t do a lot where they interned.

“I had two roommates who were Automotive majors and they both did remote internships with other automotive companies,” Skylar said. “Hearing about their experiences, I know they didn’t do or learn as much as we did at Garber. Plus I’d rather be around people instead of working remote. When you’re remote, you really don’t learn as much because you aren’t in the day-to-day, people-focused environment.”

Skylar certainly got a people-focused environment. Interning in person Monday through Friday from May through August, Skylar was able to experience every facet of the automotive dealership world. She spent time learning the ropes through three rotations in Saginaw, Michigan: at the Garber Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Garber Nissan Hyundai dealership, as part of the Digital Marketing team at Garber Management Group, and Gateway Financial, the auto lender under the Garber umbrella.

Each rotation taught her new skills and gave her a range of experiences.

“At Garber, I felt I was doing worthwhile work and felt I was truly contributing to the organization,” she said.


From Knowing to Doing

Originally from Auburn, Michigan, Skylar grew up knowing the Garber name.

“I live local to the Garber area, so I knew what Garber was,” she said. “One of my dad’s trucks is purchased from Garber. We also bought cars in the past from Garber and being local and driving into [nearby] Midland, I would always pass the Garber Chevrolet dealership.”

She also grew up cultivating a passion for cars, which stemmed from the roots of her family tree.

“I had some family members that were in the automotive industry—nothing on the dealership side, more the manufacturing side,” she explained. “When I was younger, my parents and I would drive around the dealership and look at the cars. I’ve always loved watching cars and now I have a passion for cars.”

Though Skylar was familiar with Garber and loved cars, she didn’t anticipate a career in the automotive industry. Far from it, actually.

But a tour at Northwood University opened her eyes to the career potential and opportunities within the automotive world—especially for women.

“I honestly never thought about automotive,” she laughed. “All throughout high school, I thought I would be pre-med. It wasn’t until I researched Northwood University and booked a tour on campus and looked at all the majors,” she said.

“I saw automotive and had a passion for cars and they asked me, ‘Which out of all these majors, interests you?’ I said, ‘Automotive’ and they said,’ That’s good; there’s not a lot of women in the industry; you can do really great things with this. There are great scholarships for women in the automotive industry.’ I was like, ‘I think I can make something out of myself in the automotive world’.”

When her friend Savannah decided to intern at Garber, Skylar went in for an interview as well. The process was thorough—and surprising.

“We met Dick Garber on the first day of our interview,” she said. “That was special. Not many people get to meet the owner and to see the owner and how humble he was…that was big.”

Feeling Seen, Heard, Valued

As a Garber intern, Skylar didn’t just have things to do. She was a true member of the team.

“Ty [Ty Mier, Controller at Garber and head of the internship program] took us around the building and I thought ‘Wow, there’s so much going on.’ Everyone was so nice and ready to help,” she said. “Working there, I could tell that no one was rude. Everyone there wanted to help you grow and move up in the auto industry.”

Skylar and her fellow interns got a thorough onboarding experience that increased their comfort level and familiarity while also feeling seen and welcomed.

“They took us around and gave us a tour multiple times,” she said. “Ty would often check in and see how things were going and how we were doing or had any questions. After every month, all three of us interns went to lunch with Ty and Erika [Erika Ardouin, who also helped with recruitment and the Garber internship program]. On our last lunch, Mr. Garber joined us.”

Skylar said she felt valued throughout her internship experience.

“I didn’t feel like I was ever left behind at Garber,” she said. “When I was working at the dealership, Nissan Hyundai won a ‘Best Dealership to Work for’ award and they had a celebration luncheon. Dick came, and I walked to get lunch. He saw me and stood up and started talking to me; he knew who I was. I had only talked to him two times before that for five minutes. So knowing even Dick knows who I am meant a lot. Everybody knew I was there and knew my name. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, hey, you, the Intern’.”

Looking Ahead

The best part about Skylar’s experience with Garber? It isn’t over.

After her summer internship ended, Garber’s Digital Marketing team offered her a part-time job.

Now I know that I don’t have to be committed to one path in automotive,” she said. “I’m more open to trying new things, like digital marketing. My internship experience as part of the digital marketing team was fulfilling. It aligned with what I am interested in for my future.”

Skylar said one of her favorite parts about working for Garber isn’t just the work—it’s the people and the values.

“I really appreciate Garber’s values,” she said. “All of the people—including the management—are great. Everyone is kept to a high standard, and it’s noticeable. I really appreciate the values and the way they set up their internship process.”

She said she is grateful she chose to intern at Garber.

“Getting all of this experience in one summer was perfect,” she said. “I got the best of both worlds with working in the corporation and the dealership. I got to see what I wanted to do in the future and what I didn’t want to do. This was the perfect internship for me.”

Fast Five

Favorite animal? Dolphin

Favorite food? Chocolate chip cookies

First job? Sandlot Sports in Saginaw, MI

Favorite memory from Garber? My first day working at the Garber Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership in Saginaw. Mike Pitzen works at Garber and he took me to test drive a bunch of cars.

Piece of advice for future interns? To get involved. There’s so many opportunities. We had a work picnic. We partnered with Habitat for Humanity and I volunteered for that. To be an intern, you think you can’t get involved because you’re new, but I suggest it because it helps you branch out and get a feel for who you’re working with.

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Lindsay Henry

Lindsay Henry

Lindsay is the Digital Communications Manager for Garber Automotive Group.

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