Joseph DeLarm initially became interested in mechanics in high school where he was able to take a body shop class. DeLarm decided to continue learning about a career in mechanics by taking a Kirkwood Community College Automotive Technology Academy course while still in high school. The academy courses really allowed DeLarm to get a head start learning about his interests in this field. “I chose this pathway because I really enjoyed my academy classes and decided to continue on after high school with the Diesel Truck Technology program also at Kirkwood,” said DeLarm.
The Diesel program gives students training in diesel-truck and diesel-powered equipment, maintenance and repair. DeLarm was able to obtain an internship at Thompson Truck & Trailer while finishing up course work as a student. The company enjoyed him so much that they offered him a full-time job. According to a 2018 Gallup survey, the number one thing companies want most in new employees is an internship or job shadow experience.
“We have a close relationship with the Kirkwood Diesel Truck Technology program and each fall we take two-four interns, many of which we hire on full time,” said Rayanna Bockenstedt, HR Manager with Thompson Truck & Trailer. “We have 200 employees between our six locations and 75 of them are Diesel Technicians.” The Diesel Technician position at Thompson Truck & Trailer does not require employees go through the 17-month program at Kirkwood, but it is certainly beneficial. Employees receive on-the-job training to keep up with certifications as well as the changing technology in the trucks.
Thompson Truck & Trailer is a full-service commercial truck dealership serving customers in six locations in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Thompson specializes in International, Isuzu, and Idealease Leasing & Rental, and have the tools and parts to work on all makes and models of trucks.
“When a truck comes to us, we hook it up to receive its ‘Health Report’ to better understand where the issue is stemming from,” said Bockenstedt. Bockenstedt and DeLarm both agreed that a lot of the Diesel Technician job is heavily technology focused. “We’re able to diagnose most issues through our computer system, enabling us to be much more efficient and accurate,” said DeLarm.
DeLarm mentioned the importance of an internship, he said a large amount of what he learned in class really came to life during the hands-on experience. DeLarm encourages students to research, explore and participate in an internship if they have an interest in this line of work. Additionally, students can learn about this specific job by seeking out the job profile on Community Promise.org. These exist for students to see where future talent is needed in the area.