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A Curious Mind and a Fix-it Attitude Opens Doors for Automotive Student

Riverside City College student Phyllis Hernandez has always been the fixer in her family. Her keen curiosity and fix-it attitude led her to peak under a car hood, eager to tinker around and find a solution to the vehicle's problem.

Fast-forward to college, Phyllis followed that curiosity into automotive and fell in love with the industry. In her own words, she shares with us how her curiosity has led her to pursue her passions and discover her mettle!


NK: How did your interest in automotive begin?

PH: Growing up as the oldest of eight in East LA, I found myself being the one to fix anything that went wrong. My journey started as being the only one curious enough to peak under the hood, wanting to solve the smoke coming out of it. The more my curiosity grew, the braver and more confident I became. Originally, I started out wanting to just get a certificate and ended up falling in love with the automotive industry. Everything about a vehicle sincerely intrigues me. I find myself being enthralled by the mechanics of things. I ended up going from getting my certifications, to getting a degree, to majoring in mechanical engineering. My internship started out at Jiffy Lube and now I am at Raceway Ford.

NK: What are your responsibilities like? Any challenges?

PH: I do oil changes, put on new tires, alignments, brakes, spark plugs, change air/cabin filters and recalls. I also do brake flushes, coolant flushes, transmission flushes, differential fluid replacements, transfer case fluid replacements, power steering flushes and evap services. Every job you get has different challenges. I remember doing a brake flush on a caliper with a seized bleeder screw; I ended up breaking the screw and had to replace the whole caliper. Sometimes it's those kind of lessons that will teach you that sometimes things can happen. But learn from them, move on. Do better.

NK: What advice would you give to others who are interested in internships?

PH: Take it seriously. Use this time to seriously grow as a technician. Be humble enough to listen to those who do have that experience. Enjoy what you do but take as much as you can from it. Make it your own. The internship helped me so much with my career. It got my foot in the door. I will always be grateful for the opportunity it gave me. Work hard, give it your best, and never stop trying. Putting in effort will always have its rewards. Remember, this is YOUR life. Your choices will create your future.


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