Interview with June’s Instructor of the Month Winner – Donna Pickett
We recently launched our Instructor of the Month contests at our Indy and Springfield campuses. At our Indy campus, Ms. Donna Pickett earned an overwhelming number of votes last month. You all chose her as your favorite instructor for June, so we sat down and got to know a little more about everyone’s favorite classroom instructor! Keep reading to learn more about Donna’s industry background, how she feels about her job, and tips on how to make it as a woman in a male-dominated field!
Q: Tell us about your experience in the industry and how you got started?
A: I first started driving at age 25. My husband was a truck driver and I just knew it was something I wanted to do. I spent some time driving as a team and also did some solo driving. I’ve been in the industry for over 35 years now. I’ve worked as a driver, dispatcher, recruiter and now an instructor. I’m at just under 20 years of experience as an instructor and I love it! I took to this [being an instructor] like a duck takes to water.
Q: What’s your teaching motto?
A: “I can explain it for you, but I can’t understand it for you.” We have people come through training with very little education all the way to people with Master’s degrees. You must be able to talk to people on their level.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part about your job?
A: I really enjoy getting to see the students graduate. Many times students come in here not knowing a whole lot about trucks and to see them graduate at the end is very rewarding. I also like seeing the different generations of truck drivers. We have parents, kids and grandkids that have all come through C1.
Q: What was your favorite part about OTR driving?
A: I was very young at the time and hadn’t really seen much of the country. It was great to travel and visit places that I never thought I’d see. I also learned a lot of things. When I would stop to make deliveries, I’d ask a lot of questions. I learned things like how paper is made.
Q: What’s it like being a woman in a male dominated industry?
A: When I first started in this industry women were treated way differently than they are today. Having been in the industry for over 30 years, I feel like I was one of the pioneers for women. I always had to prove I could do things…not only because I was a woman, but because of my size as well. Trucking gave me an opportunity when women didn’t have many. I was able to earn the same pay and do the same job as men.
Things have changed a lot for the better and I would tell any woman considering becoming a truck driver that she can do anything she sets her mind to. By sharing my story, I hope I can give other women out there hope that they can do this!
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to women in the trucking industry?
A: Always remain a lady and you will be treated like one. It’s all about earning that respect.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I like to spend time with my puppies and my grandchildren. I have a Shih Tzu and a Yorkie. I also like to spend time with my friends.
Q: What were some of your favorite places to visit when you were driving OTR?
A: I love San Francisco. It’s a fun place to drive through and visit. I also really like Las Vegas. I spent a lot of time in Vegas.
Q: What’s the future hold for Donna?
A: I can’t see me doing anything else. I love being an instructor. I tried taking a break a couple of years ago, but came back here to C1 if that tells ya anything. I hope to retire here in a couple of years.
So far Donna and Craig “Smokey” Robinson have both won our Instructor of the Month contest – Donna for June, and Smokey for May! Smokey’s interview will be coming soon, so stay tuned, but until then, who will win Instructor of the Month for July? Better head over to the C1 Indianapolis Facebook and cast your votes! And don’t forget to enter our Grad of the Month contest for your chance to win our official C1 T-Shirt!