Christian Gray has never been a person who enjoys wasting his time. Christian has always felt mature. He thrived at homeschooling because his mom would focus more on the subjects he found interesting. He took this lesson with him and when he had the opportunity to learn about machining at Sno-Isle Tech, in Everett, he jumped at the chance.
“My entire life I was obsessed with learning about blacksmithing and metalworking and I was excited to go see what it was all about,” explains Christian.
At Sno-Isle Tech, Christian continued to flourish and develop a real passion for machining, making things, and helping his fellow students with projects. When Christian was a junior, he stumbled upon a flyer for the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) and was interested in the program. “At the end of my second year, I heard about Youth Apprenticeship and it was an opportunity to start a career out of what I found was a really fun activity for me.”
Through AJAC, Christian started his Production Technician Youth Apprenticeship at Toolcraft, Inc. in Monroe. The 2,000-hour program allowed Christian to work part-time during the school year and full time during the summer, maximizing his time and allowing him to be paid while he learned from his mentors. He explains, “I had jumped into the Youth Apprenticeship with the idea of turning machining into a lifetime career. I stepped into work here at Toolcraft, Inc., telling them I wanted to ultimately move into the Tool and Die apprenticeship.”
Christian was put under the supervision of Operations Manager, Steve Wittenberg. Steve gushed about his employee, “Christian came in, he didn’t have a lot of experience, but he was so passionate about the work. With AJAC it gave him more of a direction with the classes and with mentors checking in on him. We have seen so much growth from him.”
Christian managed to complete his Youth Apprenticeship with Toolcraft, Inc. but decided he was not done growing. He started his first adult apprenticeship class in September and has already found them invigorating, “At adult apprenticeship, everyone is attentive and engaged with our instructor. It’s interesting to go from a situation where I’m constantly being asked for help with things, to now, where there were times where I would have an answer but three other people would chime up before me.”
Christian serves as a model for kids who want to turn their passions into a fulfilling career that can last a lifetime. Steve thinks his passion has made him a successful employee, “I always tell our employees, you follow what you’re passionate about, not everyone we hire is passionate about manufacturing. But it’s the guys who love what they do that stay on.”
When asked to give advice to the next generation of students who want to become apprentices, Christian preached stick-to-itiveness, “Even if it doesn’t initially seem enjoyable or if shop math or blueprint reading seems too hard, just keep at it and it’ll come to you slowly, even if you don’t pick it up immediately. If it’s a career path you’re choosing to go down, there is plenty of time for you to master it.”
In the future, Christian hopes to continue to gain knowledge regarding his work, “I feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface of the material, but now I get to delve deep and get more of a mastery of the craft and pick up as much information as I can.”
Christian looks to finish his adult apprenticeship and become a Tool & Die Maker by 2023.