Women in the Automotive World: How Garber’s Internship Program Opens Doors of Opportunity

When it comes to career paths, the automotive industry can be haunted by the ghosts of lingering stereotypes:

“The automotive industry is all men.” “Women won’t succeed in automotive.” “Why go into the automotive industry if you don’t want to sell cars?”

While it’s true the automotive industry does remain a male-dominated field, that does not mean it needs to stay that way. There are a variety of opportunities for women—especially at forward-thinking automotive companies like Garber.

One way Garber is working to proactively change the narrative and offer opportunities to women? Preparing the next generation through experience.

For proof, look no further than Garber’s internship program.

Our class of summer 2023 interns—Savannah Sprague, Skylar Burless and Mikayla Laux—are students at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. And they’re all women. Each of these talented interns reflected upon their individual Garber experiences in their own Spotlight stories.

Some may still say that women might shy away from this industry because there may be a lack of opportunity in the automotive workforce.

Not so, said Robert Norcross, Digital Marketing Manager at Garber Management Group (GMG) located in Saginaw, Michigan.

Especially at Garber, he added.

“Garber actively challenges these traditional norms, recognizing that collaboration between men and women provides richer perspectives and fosters a stronger organization,” Robert explained. “Women can have success – and thrive – in this industry because it’s one that has so many possibilities and ways you can be successful. It’s competitive, it’s energetic – it’s one of the best industries you can be in for your career.”

Ty Mier, controller at GMG, highlighted how Garber puts their words into action when it comes to opportunities for women in the automotive industry. This past summer, our roster of all-female interns could see a bright future in automotive. All they had to do was look around at the numerous women in various roles throughout the company.

“Women can do anything and everything in the automotive business,” he said. “We have two women leading businesses within our group today. Many managers throughout the organization are women including service managers, parts managers, finance managers and sales managers. Based on discussion with the interns, I believe they saw the challenge and opportunity the automotive space brings with an attitude of, ‘There’s not many women in the industry; I can set myself apart’.”

The sky is the limit – and there are no pigeonholes.

There are multiple reasons why Garber offers a top-notch internship program that values each intern for who they are and what they bring to the table.

Read on to learn four ways our internship program stands out amongst the rest, and why you should consider interning at Garber:

1. VALUE: We’re not just talking value when it comes to the type of experience you gain interning at Garber, though that’s true, too. Garber—above anything else—places value on team members, seeing them as individuals rather than a regular “cog in the machine.” This, of course, includes interns.

You won’t have to worry about feeling clueless about where to go, what to do or feel like somebody just put you in the corner to forever be known as just “the Intern.” The value we place on interns is evident from day 1, and it all starts and ends with communication, said Ty.

We help our interns succeed through a lot of communication,” Ty said. “On the first day, we onboard the interns to make sure there is comfort with the plan for the internship, review the calendar to make sure any vacation days are noted, review our payroll process and tentative schedules for the summer. I personally have lunch with them as a group on Day 1, then again after ever four weeks to make sure the managers and general managers they are working with are holding up their end of the deal to provide all interns with a worthwhile experience and a wide variety of tasks.” 

2. EXPERIENCE: Garber’s summer internship program usually starts in May and ends in August (often a total of 12 weeks) with a typical work schedule of Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Each intern is assigned a rotation that is staggered across three 4-week rotations: one rotation at a local Garber dealership, one rotation as part of Garber Management Group’s digital marketing team and one rotation within Garber Management Groups shared services, which includes payables, receivables, cash management, deal-team and title-team.

These three rotations allow each intern to get hands-on experience from every angle of the company, allowing for a vast array of experiences and lessons that you can apply in the classroom and the workforce.

Experiencing each of the business components and how they work together within the automotive dealership industry really helps you understand what goes into a successful organization, as well as what your preferences are within the industry. Some interns gravitate towards digital marketing, while others might love the dealership experience. Learning is part of the fun, and our rotational experience allows you to identify which direction you want your career path to take.

“We want interns to get a sense of the industry and the wide variety of careers that are available” Ty said. “You can fix vehicles, sell vehicles, record marketing/social media videos, run a parts department, or work on transactional activities that enhance the dealership and the customers experience. If none of those work, you could have exposure to our automotive lending business, Gateway Financial, and pursue a career within their various roles.”

As head of the digital marketing team, Robert said interns do quality work that truly matters across the company. “For the marketing team, we put them in a position where they are doing actual productive work for the good of our dealerships,” he said. “What they work on during the internship isn’t projects that are ‘in theory’ or might never see the light of day. They are doing work that is being produced and used in marketing for our dealerships.”

3. PERKS: Along with on-the-job training and boots-on-the-ground learning, there are numerous perks that add to the quality of Garber’s internship experience. For one, interns are compensated. You are also considered a crucial part of our culture and welcomed to join in various community and culture-based events, such as company-wide meetings, potlucks, games and volunteer events.

But beyond getting paid for your efforts and adding your voice to our culture, you gain something even more valuable: connections. Interns get face-to-fact interaction with company leaders daily, working alongside dealership general managers and getting to know an array of colleagues across the company.

Skylar Burless described meeting company president Dick Garber during her internship, saying, “We met Dick Garber on the first day. That was special. Not many people get to meet the owner and to see the owner and how humble he was…that was big.”

Interns also have some question-and-answer time with Mr. Garber at the end of the summer, enjoying lunch and allowing them to provide feedback on the experience.  This showcases the fact that interns are valued by every person at the company – including the president.

4. EMPLOYMENT: Several of our interns have continued employment with Garber. That’s because we think long-term when it comes to talent. Of course, it also takes initiative and interest from each intern, as well.

“As with all of our employee opportunities, we put the employee first,” Ty explained. “Does it make sense for them? If so, then where and what role? If we can come up with that, we proceed. Both interns that continued with the organization found their favorite role they were exposed to during the internship, connected with their manager, and asked about the potential of continuing in a role after the school session started. The interns were career-focused, felt like they could balance their schedules and wanted to keep their foot in the door at Garber.”

One of the great aspects of Garber is there are many doors of opportunity here – you just have to knock. What’s even better? Garber prides itself on being a company who invests in their team members’ future. When opportunities to grow become available, we prioritize internal growth and promotion by recruiting within our own walls rather than looking elsewhere first.

For interns who are just beginning to pave a career path, Garber offers lessons and growth that will benefit you now—and in your future.

“Our hands-on approach allows us to witness interns’ genuine capabilities and the unique value they offer,” Robert said. “And whenever we have people like that, we want to keep them at Garber as long as we can.”

Want to learn more about interning at Garber? Have questions? Contact Ty Mier at [email protected].

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Lindsay Henry

Lindsay Henry

Lindsay is the Digital Communications Manager for Garber Automotive Group.

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