Jennifer Bard Discovers the Rewards of a Welding Career

After spending half of her life facing the uncertainty of jobs in retail sales, Jennifer Bard set off to find a new career that would not only provide a stable living for herself and her young daughter, but would be personally rewarding as well. Never one to shy from a challenge, she purposefully set guidelines that might give other people pause. Her new trade would have to be in an area she knew absolutely nothing about, and would ultimately be in a field that is traditionally is thought of as the domain of males. “The harder the challenge, the greater the reward,” she said. Looking through the catalog for the College of Lake County (CLC), a class titled General Welding caught her eye. She walked through the door and was instantly hooked.

Learning and Earning
After completing that first class, Jennifer began working toward certification. While still attending classes, she saw a notice on the CLC bulletin board that we were looking for welders. She ended up joining our team as a Spot Welder in 2016, but continued her education. She now has certifications in MIG, TIG, plasma arc welding and cutting. After gaining enough knowledge to train our newest spot welders herself, she was now moved up to MIG welding projects. Meanwhile, she is working on her Associate Degree in Welding at CLC in hopes of eventually training to become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI).

One of the Guys
While making such a huge career leap was a little scary, Jennifer says she has received nothing but support from her teachers at CLC, Laser Precision and her colleagues in the shop. She enjoys being just another welder – trading tips, talking shop and laying down good welds. For the first time, she feels like part of a family of professionals, not just another employee.

A Community Effort
During the recent Manufacturing Day celebration, Jennifer had the opportunity to chat with Illinois Governor Rauner about her career path. They talked about how the Lake County Partners, CLC, the Lake County High Schools Technology Campus and businesses like Laser Precision are working together to find new sources of talent and educate them on the rewards of employment in the manufacturing sector. With a lot of job openings in the field, Jennifer would recommend welding as a career choice to any man or woman who is ready to work hard to learn the craft.

Spare Time Activities
With a full time job, education demands and continuous training in her craft, not to mention a young daughter on the Goldfish swim team, spare time for Jennifer is rather rare. When a window opens up, she and her family love to travel to theme parks. They recently did the “Ohio Double” of Cedar Point in Sandusky and King’s Island down at the other end of the state near Cincinnati. While she loves the atmosphere, Jennifer admits she now leaves the roller coasters to her husband and daughter.