Student Stories: John Schlitz

John Schlitz

Major: Automotive Technology

When John Schlitz started taking classes at College of DuPage, he began with an electronics course because of a request from his father.

“He believed that was a good career path and that I’d to well in it,” he said. “He may have been correct, but my heart was in cars. So, after Christmas break, I started in the Automotive Technology program.”

COD was a perfect place for Schlitz, especially the flexibility to take classes that fit into his schedule. This allowed him to find the right balance between work and academics.

But he also benefitted from COD in another way.

“I happened to have a Gen Ed class one day and decided to visit my friend Mike in the shop,” he said. “We were just hanging out, shooting the breeze and noticed a group of students that we had never seen before. The main reason we noticed them was that there happened to be a rather large number of girls in attendance. While there were girls who took auto classes with us, there were more in that group than we were used to seeing. Turns out it was an Automotive Fundamentals class, where you learn how to change a flat, replace a spark plug, check fluids and other basics. Anyway, I starting chatting up one of the girls. Fast forward a bit – we got married and were blessed with a daughter.”

Having earned his Associate in Applied Science degree, Schlitz – who has spent more than 25 years in the automotive field – currently works at CarMax, where he has been since 1998.

“I’m living my career goal – fixing cars. It’s what I love,” he said. “I treat it as a game: Me against the car, who will win. Sometimes it’s a mechanical issue, noise or leak that needs attention. Sometimes there is an electronic issue that needs to be addressed. The changing technologies keep you on your toes. Training is a must so one does not get behind.”

COD provided an exceptional foundation upon which Schlitz could build his career. He strongly recommends the Automotive Technology program to anyone interested in the auto industry and offers advice for a long career.

“If you decide to become an auto mechanic, I’d suggest staying or getting in shape,” he said. “I’ve been wrenching for 25-plus years, and on-the-job injuries are part of the life. Nicks, scrapes, bumps and bruises can’t be avoided. Over several different shops I’ve worked at, there have been older and younger, taller and shorter, thicker and thinner who have had back, shoulder, neck, knee problems. None of these individuals took care of themselves physically. That’s not a path I intend to travel. I’d really encourage everyone to take time for your future self no matter what your career may be.

“I don't think anyone would be disappointed if they enrolled at COD for Automotive Technology or any other program,” he said. “The flexibility, the location, the cost and the great instructors are all good reasons to attend. Taking classes with a friend is also very helpful, because you can learn from each other.”

More about the Automotive Technology program