From wanting to learn how to change a tire to becoming an equipment diagnostics rock star

Changing a tire is a good skill to learn for any teenager, but for Julia Mills it led her to discover a passion for working with heavy equipment.

"My high school didn't offer much in terms of teaching students basic automotive care skills like how to change tires," Mills recalled. "The only thing they did offer was a heavy equipment program."

Julia Mills
Julia Mills

Mills took a chance and joined the program, and found she enjoyed it. She went on to earn her associate's degree in heavy equipment and now works as a service technician for RDO Equipment Co. in Chandler, Ariz. RDO is a John Deere dealership selling and servicing construction, agriculture and lawn and garden equipment, with more than 75 locations across nine states.

"It was great, I got to apply what I learned in school to what I was doing on the job," said Mills, who began as an intern with RDO in 2018 through its Access Your Future internship program. "I got to see how I could use what I'm learning at school and apply it to my work."

What is Mills' advice to other women who may be thinking about a career servicing equipment but not sure if it is the right choice?

"Don't be afraid just because you're a woman," she said. "Nobody is going to treat you any differently."

Mills added that it can be challenging being one of just a few women in the workplace, but also empowering. "People say to me, 'Wow, you can do that,' and my response is, 'Yeah, I can!'"

Mills sees herself eventually moving into a service manager position and later a management position or working in the field. For now, she's enjoying making a difference in a job and succeeding in a profession where there is always high demand.

"I really like seeing the work I did go out and make a customer happy," she said.