The Journey In Apprenticeship, with Lindsay Goddard | St. Clair College
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Group photo in shop with faculty and Lindsay

In a field traditionally dominated by men, Lindsay Goddard, a 3rd-year apprentice in the General Machinist program at St. Clair College, is making waves and defying stereotypes. Her remarkable journey in the machining industry highlights not only her personal growth but also the importance of diversity and representation in skilled trades.

Goddard's introduction to the world of skill trades came through her father's occupation, but despite this early exposure, she initially hesitated to test the field.

“I can’t say I was initially attracted to the field. I had been around shops my whole life, as my dad drives truck for the tool and die industry, but I never really considered it a possibility for me. So much of it seemed so intimidating and unattainable, as I had never really worked with my hands before.” Goddard said.

Women in skilled trades is a traditional taboo, however, the generational practices are deviating from these professional restrictions. Goddard recalls the moment that influenced her catapult into general machining.

“It was rare to see a woman around a shop at all, unless it was in the office. In my early twenties I was inspired by seeing friends, who were similar to me, doing well and progressing in the field. They had started with the limited experience as I had at the time. I had never touched a tool in my life, so on my first day touring the plant I saw a girl using an angle grinder that was sparking and I thought it looked cool and intense!” Goddard exclaimed.

Over seven years, Goddard evolved into a Level III General Machinist. She took a leap into skilled trades and her rewarding evolution is reflective of that. Her apprenticeship journey has been a blend of classroom learning and hands-on experience, refining skills and tackling challenges with confidence. She credits her workplace, Centerline, Windsor for providing a supportive environment where she could thrive and mentor others.

“Centerline has been a secure, supportive workspace for me for the last six years. I love to learn, and Centerline has absolutely allowed me to acquire new skills as well as build upon skills learned in the past or currently in school. I have made many friends from many different departments, skillsets and backgrounds, who have shared countless tips, short cuts, viewpoints, and knowledge. I was also given the space to be my own machinist. I have been able to train and help people, which is a small thing but has been rewarding and beneficial to my learning, as well.” Goddard said.

At Centerline she was able to train on more than five different machines and set up as well as program hundreds of jobs belonging to many different companies and industries. Goddard was able to choose, program, set up, and machine jobs at her own pace, in whichever way she feels most productive.

Goddard believes that her machinist/apprenticeship experience has set her apart and fostered immense growth. She reminisces on her journey prior to trades in a dead-end retail job and the three years spent in college studying an incompatible major. She recalls immediately feeling fulfilled when she started training at a shop. Goddard now has exceptional skills, and a sense of job security. Her journey afforded the opportunity to buy a house at 23 and accomplish other life goals. She compared her past to being aimless to now having such solid direction in skilled trades.

“I had four years of machining experience before starting my apprenticeship, so a lot of the content is just refining, expanding on, and solidifying skills I already know or have seen. However, in the shop portion I have gotten to practice on and run a lot of machines I do not get to normally, and practice processes I am not familiar with such as surface grinding, broaching, and assembly,” Goddard said. “When machining the shop projects, specifically in Level III, there was so much that had to be fixed on the fly to eventually be able to fit all the parts together into a working, moving, press. Being able to re- make, fix or fit something on the spot, under pressure is a very valuable skill to have. I am more aware of what I am good at, what needs work what typically takes me too long,” Goddard said.

She attributes much of her success to the comprehensive education and practical assistance she received in the general machinist program.

“The faculty at St. Clair College is full of industry professionals, who never fail to help when needed and give industry related advice. The faculty wants you to succeed and will usually accommodate as much as possible, if you show up to class and show an interest in learning the material.” Goddard said.

Looking beyond her personal journey, Goddard highlights the need for increased female representation in the manufacturing industry. She advocates for awareness and opportunities for women interested in pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields. She emphasizes the importance of confidence and quality workmanship in overcoming the challenges faced by women in trades. She encourages aspiring women to embrace their unique perspectives while navigating male-dominated environments. Her success is an indication of the possibilities for women in trade.

“I would absolutely advise any woman interested in trades to go for it! It just feels like an extension of work only two days of the week. If you have a passion for anything hands on or enjoy the challenge of machining, there is really nothing to lose,” Goddard said. “I struggled at times in the program, but everything has been so worth it, for knowledge I have picked up alone. I have gained so much more confidence in myself as a student and a shop employee. The skills translate so well between school to work and vice versa. I have met so many amazing faculty members as well as classmates from different trades, shops and levels of experience.” Goddard said.

As Goddard continues to carve her path in machining, her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring women in the industry. With her unwavering determination and commitment to excellence, she is reshaping the future of machining, one precision cut at a time. Her goal is to learn more about design, Computer-aided design and Computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and programming. She plans to take the Red Seal test this Spring or Summer, and a few online courses in Instrumentation, AutoCAD and Electrical Design.

Goddard's story reminds us that barriers are meant to be broken, and with dedication and perseverance, anyone can forge a successful career in the trades.

For those interested in following in her footsteps, St. Clair College offers a diverse range of apprenticeship programs, including Automotive Service Technician, Electrician, General Carpentry, Plumber and more. These programs provide the tools and resources needed to succeed in the evolving manufacturing industry. These programs are available at the Main Campus, Windsor, some of which are delivered on a part-time basis.

Learn more about apprenticeship opportunities and start your journey today at St. Clair College: Apprenticeship.