Reginald Norris and Kennard Irving are swimming in a sea of Volkswagens.
Their work days are filled with a steady stream of VWs pulling in and out of the service department at Gensinger Volkswagen, a dealership in Clifton, where the two graduates of New Community’s Automotive Technician Employment and Training Program both recently landed full time jobs.
For Norris and Irving, securing jobs at Gensinger Volkswagen opens up a world of possibilities in the automotive industry.
Both men were trained at NCC’s auto program, held at the state-of-the-art Automotive Training Center on West Bigelow Street in Newark, which Brian Pleva said allowed both men to start working on cars immediately upon being hired.
“They basically were able to start working alongside other technicians,” said Pleva, parts and service director at Gensinger Volkswagen.
The training at NCC showed Pleva that the two men not only wanted jobs but already possessed a certain level of knowledge and skills. “We don’t hire people who just say, ‘I want to become a mechanic,’” Pleva said.
Irving said he services eight to 10 cars a day under the watchful eye of his mentor, John Tagerian, a master technician. He seeks guidance from Tagerian, who has worked at the dealership for 15 years, but also relies on what he learned in class and on the shop floor of NCC’s Automotive Training Center.
“All the basic knowledge from there, I applied here,” said Irving, 36, of East Orange, who gave credit to NCC’s instructor John Zaccheus and mechanic Julio Arroyabe. “Tools and patience—that’s the two main things (you need) working with cars,” he added.
“New Community has a longstanding partnership with Gensinger Volkswagen and we appreciate their willingness to hire graduates of our automotive program,” NCC Director of Workforce Rodney Brutton said.
“We are very proud of Reggie and Kennard, not only in their ability to be good technicians but they were ready to work,” Brutton added, noting their preparation included possessing a valid driver’s license, high school diploma and interview skills, which were encompassed in the training course.
Norris, 23, of Newark, acknowledged that when he first started the auto course at NCC, he wasn’t optimistic about his future job prospects. “I didn’t think I’d get a job to be honest,” he said. “But when I got a job, it was a big deal.”
From NCC instructors, Norris said he learned the importance of a solid work ethic. “They gave me the idea to do it the right way,” he said.
“You can’t not put in a screw or a bolt because you don’t feel like it,” Norris said. “It’s something I can apply to my life.”
Norris said he bounced around different jobs and previously worked at a supermarket and Amazon distribution center. “It’s probably one of the best things that’s happened to me in a long time,” Norris said of his current job. “At a job like this, you never get bored.
A single father, Irving said he wants to work his way up at Gensinger Volkswagen in order to provide for himself and his 2-year-old daughter, Kenna.
“This is the type of job and type of environment that I needed for that to happen,” Irving said.