SEMA Member News—July/August 2013
A Few Words With Scholarship Recipient Patrick Hill
Patrick Hill’s father Jim was the head of marketing and public relations for Crane Cams for nearly 40 years, so Patrick got to know many of the automotive editors, writers and advertising folks his dad worked with. The aftermarket magazine business appealed to the younger Hill—especially the relationships and camaraderie—and he knew that he wanted to make a career there.
Patrick’s dad encouraged him to learn about cars and performance parts, and other industry professionals he encountered also mentored him. While Patrick was attending college—first at Daytona Beach Community College and then at the University of Central Florida (UCF)—Bill Holland, a long-time SEMA member and owner of Holland Communications, strongly suggested he apply for a SEMA scholarship. Patrick received a scholarship award and ultimately earned his bachelor’s degree in 2004. We spoke with him about his experiences and his advice for others.
SEMA Member News: What types of expenses did you use your SEMA Memorial Scholarship award for?
Patrick Hill: It helped pay for school photography supplies, such as film, paper and processing chemicals while I was working on my degree in that area. The money went a long way to making sure I got my work done. Later, when digital photography really took hold and I was at UCF, I used it for books and school supplies, and the scholarship helped with unexpected expenses that always come up during a semester.
SMN: How did you get involved with Source Interlink Media?
PH: I first started working for Source Interlink Media back in 2005 after talking with Doug Evans about an opening as a web editor on the websites for the various magazines located at the office in Tampa, Florida. In 2006, I took over the Super Chevy website, and I moved to being a fulltime staff editor in 2008 when a staff position opened up, while still contributing to the website.
SMN: Did the scholarship award bring you into contact with any other SEMA programs or relationships?
PH: I got to know people involved in the industry through being a scholarship winner and helping to let the kids of other SEMA-member company employees find out about the program and apply for scholarships. As I built new relationships through my work, I also interacted with other SEMA members in the industry. I was able to use those connections to help with fundraising efforts for the scholarship fund. It was a way for me to give back.
SMN: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to pursue an education and career in the automotive industry?
PH: Our industry is entering a time of serious transition that is similar to what we went through with photography about 12 years ago, when digital started taking over. Planning ahead for what will be needed in even the next five years is tough.
The best advice I could give is to learn about websites, the Internet, how to build sites, what the metrics mean, and how to utilize the web to its maximum potential for whatever area of the industry you go into.
Get some hands-on experience whenever possible. Book smarts are great, but practical knowledge will equal or triumph book smarts almost every time. I worked for AutoZone for three years while I was in school, and that taught me a great deal about the retail side of the industry. The time I spent with my dad taught me about the manufacturing side.
Find a mentor who can help keep you on track and guide you toward whatever area you want to work in. My dad, Bill Holland, and Ed Zinke, a publisher at Source Interlink Media, gave me invaluable mentorship while I was in school and getting started in the industry. Sometimes they had to figuratively smack me upside the head when I needed it, but they always meant it to help me succeed.
Watch for burnout. We’re all usually filled with overwhelming amounts of enthusiasm when we start in the industry. But if we don’t watch ourselves, we can run out of gas. Having a hobby outside of and different from work helps to keep your mind and spirit fresh, and it will usually give you ideas for work that you might not have thought of before. Most of us don’t work 9-to-5 jobs in our industry, so finding a way to give your brain a rest is really important.
Help with finances can be crucial to success at college or a trade school. The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund is dedicated to fostering the next generation of automotive aftermarket industry leaders and innovators. Awards range from $2,000 to $3,000, with $5,000 going to the top student. To learn more about the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, visit www.SEMA.org/scholarships.