Today we continue our series of blog posts profiling students pursuing graphic arts careers who have received monetary awards from the Print and Graphic Scholarship Foundation (PGSF).
Our second interviewee, Gregory DeGross, is currently a senior at Western Michigan University. Greg spoke with us about job search strategies, student participation in professional conferences, and his thoughts on the future of the printing industry.
What area of the graphic arts do you consider your primary focus (design, print production, digital media, etc.)?
My primary focus is in print production and digital media, including RFID technology, color management, and quality assurance.
Have you started job searching? If so, what has been your experience thus far?
I had two internships at Nosco, Inc., a pharmaceutical printed packaging company in Gurnee, IL. These internships lasted 4 months each, and I have accepted their job offer as a Senior Quality Assurance Specialist. From my experience, industry meetings and conventions are definitely a good place to start your job search. The networking that goes on is tremendous—building contacts for the near and distant future. I’ve had contacts through LinkedIn, which is also a good resource for new grads.
What were your top considerations when looking for a job in the graphic arts field?
What I was looking for in a potential employer and something I feel all new graduates should be looking for is a growing company, even if it is a new company—a company that will provide health benefits and the opportunity to advance. Companies with multiple branch locations are worth the application process as well. Other considerations would include companies with a variety of graphic positions, e.g., computer design, mechanical prep, production, purchasing, customer service, shipping, etc.
What are one or two interesting graphic arts projects you’ve completed at school?
I was a part of the 2012 Phoenix Challenge team at Western Michigan University. The Phoenix Challenge is a flexographic printing competition. Multiple schools from across the country participate in this competition every year. My team created labels and packaging for reusable containers and a sweet and salt snack mix. We worked with experts in the industry, as well as new and innovative materials. The most interesting part of the competition was having the opportunity to print on dissolvable label paper.
Have you attended any professional events or conferences?
Yes, I’ve been to Info Flex, which was hosted by the FTA (they also sponsored the Phoenix Challenge competition). I also attended the annual conference of the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters, which was held in Salt Lake City, UT.
What could organizations that host professional events and conferences do to attract more student participation?
Students do not typically have discretionary income for travel and lodging expenses, which are not typically paid for by the universities, even if the registration fees were complimentary. A reduction in the registration fees helps, but sponsoring events close by, or at, each of the top graphic and printing universities would also be a plus.
How do you see print’s role in the media mix today? What do you think is the future of print?
The role of print is not as black and white as it has previously been thought to be. I’m sure others have said that before, but what I mean is that print is considered graphic reproduction. Printing surfaces are not always from trees. Good organizations and profitable businesses purchase new equipment to keep up with the cost-effective needs of the consumer/client. If a trend in marketing and promotions calls for customers to purchase printed hats, bottles, or reusable bags, print producers need to figure out how to get those jobs, too.
Thanks for speaking with us Greg, and good luck as you begin your career!