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Brenda Kai talks about The Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation

Published on February 24, 2011

Brenda Kai, the Executive Director of the EDSF chats with Cary about the EDSF and some of the services and programs they offer to printers.

Cary Sherburne:  I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com, and I’m here with Brenda Kai, who is Executive Director of EDSF.  Brenda, welcome. 

Brenda Kai:  Thank you, Cary.  It’s good to be here. 

Cary: So EDSF, of course had been around for more than a decade and I wonder, you know, you’ve delivered some great services to the industry, I wonder if you could give us an update on kind of what your key programs are today and some of the key metrics you can talk about. 

Brenda:  I’d love to.  We have just actually finished our 2010, 2011 scholarship academic year and we awarded another 39 scholarships this year. 

Cary:  Oh, that’s great. 

Brenda:  And what sets us apart a little bit from others is that our scholarship program is a worldwide.  And so we’re outside North America and this year we actually had a scholarship awarded to the State University of Moscow in Russia. 

Cary:  Oh wow! 

Brenda:  Who uses Heidelberg products pretty extensively.  So that was very exciting for us.  Today we have awarded 366 scholarships worldwide and we’ve honored about 62 educators in our Excellence in Education Awards.  Right now we’re really excited because based on the terrific contributions made by our board and our individual contributors; we’re not at a point where we’re going to be able to take a look at some internship programs. 

Cary:  Oh, terrific. 

Brenda:  Which is very exciting for us.  And so we are going to be looking to place some students into some real live work experiences in print shops and looking at the main street-type shops where they really get a chance to be more involved in everything besides printing, so they’ll be involved in the marketing and in the selling aspect of it as well.  So we think it will be a great opportunity to expand their real life education once they --

Cary:  And the interns, are you looking for junior/senior level, freshman/sophomore level, what level are you looking for? 

Brenda:  yeah, EDSF really focuses on junior/senior level and advanced degree.  And while we love the freshman and the sophomores, we really do want to focus on students that are coming into the industry and as I know from my own personal experience with having three kids going through college, they don’t always know what they want to be as freshmen and sophomores. 

Cary:  That’s true, that’s absolutely true.  Yeah, so then when they come out of that, they’re more well-rounded and a little bit better grounded in terms of being able to move into a printing firm and work for a graphic communications firm of some sort, right? 

Brenda:  Right, exactly.  And about two years ago, we did a research paper with Info Trends and one of the things that that research showed is that the people running print shops and hiring and recruiting really were looking for people that were a little more well-rounded and not quite so specialized in the industry.  And so we think that this will really be a value add for the industry.  

Cary:  You know, the other thing that the industry really needs that shops really need, is they need to make sure that people have the right kind of computer skills and really even the IT focus, so even if you get into data handling and data management and data analysis, so I don’t know if you’re doing anything in that area or it depends on what the curriculum is for the schools or –

Brenda:  Right.  And I think a lot of the curriculum now is, if you take a look at some of the Universities, NYU, certainly, RIT, Pittsburgh State, you see that as a pretty heavy component of what the program offers these days.  So it is being – they are looking to expand beyond just the true print side. 

Cary:  You know it’s interesting because we don’t really think about it this way much, but the universities are producing a product –

Brenda:  They are. 

Cary:  that is consumed by business and that product is those – a new generation of employees. 

Brenda:  Right.  And I actually saw in WhatTheyThink.com about a week and a half, two weeks ago, an interview that was done with David Harding, and his whole focus was, what are we as an industry going to do with all of these people that are leaving and the rate at which we an bring qualified people into it.  And so I was happy to see that one of our board members said, “Well, you need to get involved with EDSF because that’s exactly what we are trying to do.” 

Cary:  Yeah.  You know, this generation that’s graduating now, the ones that you are giving scholarships to and so on, I mean, most of them were born – I hate to even think about this, but born in 1995 and after, right?  And we kind of mark the beginning of the internet you know, being commercial with 1995 with the launch of, with the IPO of Netscape because that’s when it really became more public – more of a public interest.  So since 1995, 60 million Americans have been born and so there’s 60 million out there – people out there who don’t know a world without the internet.  

Brenda:  That’s scary. 

Cary:  Isn’t amazing?  That’s amazing, so.  Well you guys are doing great work. 

Brenda:  Thank you. 

Cary:  And I know that you will be able to continue and hopefully you’ll be able to get, you know, continue to have the industry support your work with their generous sponsorships and contributions. 

Brenda:  Yes.  We have a wonder Board of Directors and our contributors and volunteers; we could not do what we do without wonderful volunteers like yourselves.  So thank you. 

Cary:  All right, thank you very much Brenda. 

Brenda:  Thank you. 

Cary:  It’s great to see you. 

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