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Interview

The Value of PGSF Scholarships in Building the Talent Pool: What Recipients Say about the Difference It Made to Them

As part of our week-

By Cary Sherburne
Published: November 9, 2006

As part of our week-long coverage of the great work that the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) is doing to encourage students to pursue careers in graphic communications, WhatTheyThink contacted several scholarship recipients, asking them how the scholarships helped them and what their advice to today’s students would be.  Here are their responses.

Anne Hibl, Process Improvement Engineer, Banta Corp., Menasha, WI

WTT:  What year were you a scholarship recipient?

AH:  2000.

WTT:  How did the scholarship help you pursue your educational aims?

AH:  The scholarship allowed me to focus my efforts on my studies by lightening the financial burden of my education.

WTT:  How much influence did the scholarship ultimately have on your ability or desire to work in our industry?

AH:  By demonstrating the industry's commitment to supporting the education of its future members, the scholarship reinforced my desire to be a part of the industry.

WTT:  What is your advice to today's high school students, their parents and advisors, relative to career opportunities in the graphic communications industry and what should they be considering in their educational endeavors?

The graphic communications industry is attractive because of the multiple career paths available, such as sales, management, customer service or research and development in a variety of different fields.

AH:  Like many industries today, graphic communications has been affected by many factors including technological advances and increasing global competition.  These pressures have increased the demand for employees with not only industry knowledge but also with strong business skills and the desire to lead through times of change.  The graphic communications industry is attractive because of the multiple career paths available, such as sales, management, customer service or research and development in a variety of different fields.

For any student with an interest, I would highly recommend starting with high school graphic arts courses in addition to taking advantage of any opportunity for a youth-apprenticeship program that partners with local industry.  After high school, a four-year degree focusing on graphic communications, such as the Graphic Communications Management degree offered at University of Wisconsin Stout, will provide the benefits of a business degree with additional focus on areas unique to our business. 

Doug Yeager, Assistant Chairman/COO, Alcom, Harleysville, PA

WTT:  What year were you a scholarship recipient?

DY:  1977.

WTT:  How did the scholarship help you pursue your educational aims? 

DY:  The scholarship basically helped me put myself through college.  With scholarships like PGSF, students are allowed to pursue a career at possibly a private university versus maybe going to a two-year school or not being able to attend a university at all.  My educational aims were to get a degree from the best possible university.  I was able to achieve that goal with the help of PGSF as well as other scholarships.  While higher education is not a goal for every high school student, the need for scholarships like PGSF is growing every year as the costs of higher education continue to increase.

WTT:  How much influence did the scholarship ultimately have on your ability or desire to work in our industry? 

DY:  I don’t think the scholarship ultimately influenced my desire to be part of the graphic arts industry.  I knew from junior high school that I wanted to be a part of the printing and publishing industry.  I would have somehow found a way to make that happen.  I think PGSF certainly had an influence on my being able to finish four years of higher education.

WTT:  What is your advice to today's high school students, their parents and advisors, relative to career opportunities in the graphic communications industry and what should they be considering in their educational endeavors? 

DY:  My advice to students would be to explore the graphic communications industry as a career choice and to not listen to anyone who might comment that it is a dying industry and that all jobs in the industry require you to get your hands dirty, or that job opportunities in the industry are low paying.  The graphic communications industry is in desperate need of a younger workforce.  Computer technology continues to be a bigger part of our industry each and every day.  We are going to need to rely on the talents of young adults to run our businesses and take our companies into the future.  Our industry needs to work smarter, not harder. 

My advice to students would be to explore the graphic communications industry as a career choice and to not listen to anyone who might comment that it is a dying industry and that all jobs in the industry require you to get your hands dirty, or that job opportunities in the industry are low paying.

You just need to believe that higher education is a possibility if you have the desire, no matter what you are being told about the cost or anything else.  There are many, many opportunities for college funding in the way of scholarships such as PGSF.  You just need to be diligent and work hard, and you can make your dream of a college degree a reality.  

My advice to parents would be to encourage your child to explore the possibility of a career in the graphic communications industry.  Remember that, no matter where you go, or what you handle or do in any given day, you are being touched by the graphic communications industry.  Think about it.  Billboards, packaging of any kind, currency, M&M’s:  just a very few examples of how our industry touches everyone on a daily basis.  We are not a dying industry.  We offer careers that afford many individuals fulfilling and satisfying jobs.

My advice to advisors would be very similar to my advice to parents.  Do not discourage students from pursuing careers in the graphic communications industry.  Do some research, get some tools that promote our industry.  There are schools and universities that cover the United States and offer degrees in our industry.   

WTT:  Is there anything else you would like to add about PGSF and its work?

DY:  PGSF is the foremost scholarship foundation in our industry.  It is supported by companies and individuals alike who either are or have been somehow involved in our wonderful industry.  The goals of the foundation are to continually promote our industry and to offer as many high school and college students the opportunity for higher education as possible.  They have the support of our industry not only from a funding point of view, but from an involvement and support point of view.  They try to remain in contact with as many of the graduates as possible and value the students that graduate and become a part of the graphic communications industry.

Bryan Yeager, Student, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

(Editor’s note: Bryan is Doug Yeager’s son and is an example of the multigenerational impact PGSF has had on our industry.)

WTT:  You are currently a student at RIT. Is your scholarship for the 2006/2007 school year?

BY: I’ve been a student at RIT in the School of Print Media since 2004. Once I got accepted to RIT in December of 2003, I started looking for scholarships with resources on the Internet, as well as resources from my high school. When I found the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, the thing that attracted me to it was its close relationship to the field I was entering. Also enticing was the fact that applying for the scholarship was a one-time deal. When you apply to PGSF, you only have to apply once, and your scholarship renews each year, as long as you keep your GPA above a 3.0. The only thing you have to do is each quarter (or semester, depending on the school) is send your grades and a letter updating PGSF and your donor on how you are doing and what you are learning. Therefore, this scholarship has been recurring for me every year at RIT, including this academic year.

WTT: How is the scholarship helping you pursue your educational aims?

BY: By requiring me to keep a GPA of 3.0 in order to keep my scholarship, PGSF gives me an extra incentive for maintaining good grades, which is always helpful. Also, by having to send an update at the end of every quarter, it gives me a good chance to reflect on how well I did, what classes were good, what classes weren¹t so good, and a general overview of how I’m doing. Sometimes you don¹t realize how well your classes went until you sit back and write about them.

When I found the scholarship online, my dad pushed me to apply for it, but I don't think it really hit me at the time how cool it was that it was generational. I went to RIT not knowing exactly what to expect, but once I got into the groove of taking classes and finding out exactly what the subject matter was, I embraced it. When I started writing my letters at the end of every quarter, that's when it really hit me about how important the scholarship was to my education, and also about how cool it was that I was following in my dad's footsteps in more ways than one.

PGSF gives me an extra incentive for maintaining good grades, which is always helpful. Also, by having to send an update at the end of every quarter, it gives me a good chance to reflect on how well I did, what classes were good, what classes weren¹t so good, and a general overview of how I’m doing.

Aside from the scholarship, I'd say an even bigger factor in pursuing my education to its fullest is my dad, because it's great to be able to come home and have that whole extra realm that we can both relate to. We went to Print 05 together, and we were both at Graph Expo this year. It's just been an awesome experience to have that extra something. I like to try to impress my dad, and he's definitely a driving factor.

WTT: How much influence do you think the scholarship will ultimately have on your ability or desire to work in our industry?

BY: PGSF, along with its parent organization of PIA/GATF and other organizations that promote education such as the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA), have all been a strong influence in expanding my desire to learn, as well as to contribute to the printing industry. I have always been interested in the education field myself, and organizations like these help make it possible to expand minds and educate, whether it involves funding students like PGSF does, or holding seminars, conferences, and pushing research to move our industry forward.

WTT: What is your advice to today's high school students, their parents and advisors, relative to career opportunities in the graphic communications industry and what should they be considering in their educational endeavors?

BY: People not involved with the graphic arts have a misconception about what the industry is really like. There is a lot more involved these days in the process of putting ink on paper. The printing industry is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the United States, as well as the world, and even as technology evolves, that technology is integrated with the industry. There are a lot more positions for young, educated minds in the industry today, ranging from customer service and sales on the business side to workflow, digital asset management, and database publishing jobs on the premedia side. There's a job for everyone, from the business-oriented student to the technical-oriented student like myself.

WTT: Is there anything else you would like to add about PGSF and its work?

BY: PGSF is a wonderful foundation to help foster and support education in the Graphic Arts. It's now fueling a new generation of bright young minds in the printing industry who will hopefully feel compelled to give back just like PGSF has. Watch out for more good things to come in the next five years.

Cary Sherburne is a well-known author, journalist and marketing consultant whose practice is focused on marketing communications strategies for the printing and publishing industries.

Cary Sherburne is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us.

Please offer your feedback to Cary. She can be reached at cary@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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