A recent graduate venturing into the printing industry might be a little concerned.
First there’s the whole “print is dying” phenomena being pushed by the digital world. It’s not, I assure you. Print is a 640 billion dollar industry driving $3.8 trillion in related services.
Then there’s the whole “I know absolutely nothing about print” thought that might be crossing your mind as you are contemplating whether or not to take the plunge into the ink on paper world. Hey don’t worry – you aren’t alone. There are a lot of people with these same fears. What can you do?
4 Ways to Hit the Ground Running in the Printing Industry
1. Join a leadership development program
The greatest decision I ever made was joining the Consolidated Graphics (now R.R. Donnelley) Leadership Development Program. In the program you spend a little bit of time in each department of your print plant to gain valuable hands on experience. Yes, you might be spending a lot of time on your feet not doing glamorous work, but take advantage of the time you get to stand next to an expert in your field. Many of these individuals have been doing their job for a very long time – pick their brain and learn something new every day.
2. ask questions
This again goes back to spending time with experts in your field. See them trouble shooting a machine? Find out why. Is there something an earlier department could have done to make their job easier? How about a CSR or sales rep? Pick up as much knowledge as you can, whenever you can. That knowledge will come in handy no matter what your eventual permanent position will be. Even after 8 years in the industry, I still find myself picking the brains of those around me.
3. Take the initiative
Maybe this one is instilled in me because of my old Taco Bell manager preaching “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” Don’t wait for a directive, volunteer. If you see a process you think could use some improvement, speak up. The leaders in your organization will notice it, and I promise it will be rewarded.
4. Bring on the Tech
Yes, your company may be best known for their ability to put ink on paper. But if your shop is anything like mine was when I first came on board – there’s a HUGE opportunity for a digital native to come in and make a difference. Learn about the different technologies your company is offering (and even the ones they aren’t) and evaluate how they could help your clients. Becoming an expert in these technologies will make you the go-to person for any technology question.