Q: “How can I get in the automotive industry?”
A: “If you have to ask, you won’t ever get in.”
I must admit, I have a pretty awesome job.
There are usually two reactions when people find out I test drive cars for a living; a look of disinterest or a look of amazement.
For those not interested in the automotive world, the disinterest is understandable. The ones who are amazed inevitably ask, “How can I get into this business?”
The only advice I can offer is obvious, but can thankfully be applied to any “dream” job: Have all the prerequisites and conditions met, be patient and sincere, and be at the right place at the right time
It’s critical to note that every job has a set of prerequisites and conditions that must be met, and test driving cars involves a few. You not only have to drive the car and operate test equipment, you also need a basic understanding of vehicle dynamics and how they work mechanically. And let’s not forget you need to know how to verbalize recorded data and your feelings into cohesive thoughts.
Being patient and sincere may seem obvious, but this is the area that causes the most frustration. There are tons of qualified people who want the job, but it takes a little bit extra to live the job. The people who understand this are the ones writing blogs, taking photos, networking with industry insiders and getting face time — not because they’re trying to get work, but because they have genuine passion and interest for the field.
And precisely because they have positioned themselves in the industry, they’re now poised to strike when an opportunity arises. Should no such opportunity present itself, at least you’re in an industry for which you have passion, and not enough people are able to say that.
Calvin Kim is the Road Test Assistant for Road & Track magazine. He has tested every vehicle from a Porsche 997 GT3 RS to a Hyundai Elantra, and was most recently sent to Germany to drive a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster. He is a former Online Editor for Cycle World magazine and Webmaster for Motorcycle.com.