Students in print elijah carrington

Elijah Carrington is a Junior attending Robert Morris University in Moon, PA. He is pursuing BFA in Media Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design.

Q) How did you first get interested in the graphic arts?

A) In high school, I was introduced to graphic design through an intro class that focused on photo manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. I took the class because it looked fun and easy, with the thought that I would eventually pursue an architectural degree. After taking drafting classes and comparing it to the design classes I was taking simultaneously, design appeared to be better avenue to pursue. Ignoring the warnings of low pay and other industry woes, I decided to major in Media Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design at RMU. It was a great decision, as I am currently working as a remote designer throughout school, and have plans to continue integrating my design education with self-taught coding capabilities.

Q) Did you take any courses in high school that were related to graphic communications, or that prepared you for your planned career and what are you studying now?

A) I took Intro to Graphic Design and then continued with GD 2 & 3. In college I am taking a variety of Media Arts, Studio, Printmaking, Visual Arts/Communications, Color, Design, Typography, Web design, Digital, Production for the Designer, etc.

Q) Is there a particular area of the graphic communications field that is of special interest to you as you consider where you want to focus your future career on?

A) I am currently focused on graphic design for print and web. I create raster and vector graphics for a variety of mediums, including, but not limited to: PowerPoints, brochures, labels, web ads, mag ads, booklets, business proposal covers, and informational videos. I am hoping to branch out into design & development, and have already launched Boldest on the App Store. Boldest is an app that started as an idea within a business plan, and turned into a full-fledged product after sketching, creating mockups/wireframes, and coding UI/front-end. I am going to focus on creating another app before I graduate because it is a great way to showcase a multifaceted skill set.

Looking to the Future

Q) What type of company would you like to work for after you graduate?

A) Startups are versatile and look like great environments to start out in. I am also looking for professional design firms that would give me the experience to start out on my own, after a few years in the industry.

Q) What do you think employers are looking for in today’s workforce and current industry environment?

A) Drive & determination, a broad skill set, the ability to follow instructions and deliver on time, and leadership skills. Employers that are looking for the best employees want to see an inner drive to persist and stick to projects. Skills can be taught, but there must also be cognitive ability to adapt and learn on the spot. The current industry environment is fast-paced with a high turnover rate and little emphasis on pensions. This is especially in the case study of Amazon’s white-collar, overworked employees. They work
80-hour weeks due to the pressure and strain from high-performance. Soon an industry norm, millennials
have the ability to reduce social life to appease a company because of increasing student debt and less
focus on purchasing big-ticket items, such as homes.

Q) Is there anything that you have found to be particularly different from what you initially expected now that you’ve progressed through your education process?

A) The educational process is most beneficial if you are fully invested in the topic being taught. I learn a lot more when I have taken an interest, or have applied what is being learned to a personal project. Combining information from two distinct classes can have an impact on interest. I expected learning about design to be fun and interesting, and there have been great instances of that. We have had field experience, talks from designers from Pittsburgh, the opportunity to explore museums, and plenty of time to design on the computer. I love drawing/sketching, painting and analog forms of expression, but my focus is on digital art forms, and the relation tied between on-screen design and print.

Q) Have you changed your plans or ideas about what area or type of job you might like to have since you first considered the graphic communications field and began studying for a career in it?

A) I have slightly changed my plans to include working for smaller startups because I love the type of work that can be created by smaller teams. Employees have the ability to expand beyond their normal, daily
responsibilities to contribute to the growth of a startup in a rapidly shifting marketplace.

Q) Has being a recipient of a PGSF scholarship made a difference in your education, and if so, how?

A) PGSF has provided me with the tools to start and continue my education at Robert Morris University. Whether it was assisting in the purchase of educational materials, such as books, or artistic supplies, PGSF has made a great difference in my education.

Q) Anything else that you would like to add?

A) I am currently studying abroad in London, England for my second semester of Junior year. It is a great opportunity to explore European countries and gather insight into maturity and individualism. This is also my first travel abroad experience, outside of the United States.


Students in Print

Students in Print – Building Tomorrow’s Workforce

This page features some of the more than 200 current students that are receiving scholarships from the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation. This series gives you an up close and personal insight into the thoughts and motivations of the young people that are coming into the graphic communications industry today. As the current workforce reaches retirement and leaves, replacing them becomes an increasingly important factor for many companies. Here are the stories of the people who will be joining the industry and will make up the workforce of the future. To read their profiles and learn about their stories, simply click on their image.

  • Elijah Carrington
    Junior at Robert Morris
    University in Moon, PA.

  • Josie Moore

    Junior at College of
    the Ozarks in Point Lookout,Missouri.

  • Olivia Konys

    Senior at the Rochester
    Institute of Technology in
    Rochester, New York.

  • Brianna Ferguson

    Sophomore at University of
    Wisconsin-Stout in
    Menomonie, Wisconsin.

  • Katelyn Theis

    Senior at University of
    Wisconsin-Stout in
    Menomonie, Wisconsin.

  • Katherine Dayton

    Fifth year student at
    Western Michigan University
    in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

  • Megan-Hagedorn

    Senior at University of
    Wisconsin-Stout in
    Menomonie, Wisconsin.

  • Megan Ho

    Freshman at Texas State
    University in San Marcos,

  • Rebecca Nattress

    Senior at University of
    Wisconsin-Stout in
    Menomonie, Wisconsin.

  • Samantha Bressler

    Senior at College of
    the Ozarks in Point Lookout,

  • Tim McMahon

    Junior at College of Design,
    Architecture, Art, and Planning
    at the University of Cincinnati
    in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Toni Berning

    Sophomore at Ball State
    University in Muncie, Indiana.

  • Madison Ebbert

    Freshmen at James Madison
    University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

  • Kaitlyn Anthony

    Freshman at Illinois Valley
    Community College in
    Oglesby, Illinois.

  • Austin Heredia

    Freshman at the Art Institute
    of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Video Tour of a Corrugated Design & Manufacturing Facility

The Video Tour of a Corrugated Design and Manufacturing Facility is a great introduction to the inner workings of the corrugated industry. With this program, viewers get an overview of all the processes through which corrugated containers are manufactured. It’s a lively, informative introduction to students considering a career in the corrugated packaging and display industry.

PRINT Career Day Speaker Video

Find Your Future in the Graphic Communications Industry

If you are a high school student looking for an awesome, creative career path you need to learn more about the graphic arts industry. It will lead you to so many opportunities. No matter what it is you want to do – get a four-year degree or go right to work – you’ll have everything you need to take the next step.

Brought to you by the PRINT event and APTech

What Graphic Communications Students Need to Know

By Nick Gawreluk
Graduate of RIT and currently Product Manager with Hewlett-PackardEditor’s Note: This article contains a young professional’s perspective on how to find a successful career in graphic communications. While it is directed at students, it is also an excellent piece that teachers and professors can use to inspire their students, and that parents can also use with their kids.Whether you are in high school, college, or a recent graduate, I am here to pass along a few lessons and motivation that will help you navigate your way into the incredible world of Graphic Communications. Buckle up and take notes, because this industry is moving fast as it reinvents itself! I encourage all of the readers to jump in and share their most valuable pieces of advice in the comment section below.What you know + who you know = greater career success I believe that optimal career success is achieved through a balance of professional skillsets along with the ability to successfully network and gain strategic exposure. You could be doing amazing work, but if the exposure is not there then you are stuck in the dark. On the flipside, you may be well connected and have an opportunity open. But if you are unable to perform, then your time will be limited. Identify which side of the equation needs further development, and know that your efforts will better position you for overall success.

Career mentors are critical

The path to success is rarely easy or direct. One of the best things you can do while in school is to seek out someone with experience who will listen to your aspirations and help navigate toward the right path. A great place to start would be identifying people who are established in the areas in which you are interested. It can be intimidating reaching out to someone you barely know to ask for help, but something as simple as setting up a phone call or meeting for coffee can be a great place to start. I encourage you to attend industry conferences and trade shows in your area of interest as these are great places to network with like-minded people within the industry. Mentorship is very much “pay-it-forward” based, so don’t forget to give back and return the favor one day when you have the chance to help someone early in their career.

Internships are your early investment

Your goal early on should be obtaining as much diverse experience as possible to determine what you are truly passionate about. Knowing what you do not like is progress towards finding where your true interests are. Think of internships as an early investment that will help you in the long run. Be proactive in searching for companies that offer rotational internships and do not be afraid to contact companies that do not have formal internship programs. The industry desperately needs younger talent, and you bring a fresh perspective that companies are looking to capture.

Always keep an open mind

Blink an eye, and I guarantee you will miss something; because this industry moves extremely fast. With rapid transformation comes a lot of new opportunity which is why it is important to be open-minded. Recognize that early in your career is a unique time to easily pivot and take on new experiences. Stepping outside your comfort zone and conquering new challenges allows you to walk away with higher confidence, an expanded skillset and a great opportunity to grow your network.

Take advantage of print scholarships

If you were not already aware, there are many incredible organizations dedicated to helping promote and financially support students in the printing industry. I suggest you apply for scholarships and build a relationship with the incredible people behind each organization. They work tirelessly to advocate for the future generation and we are lucky to have them! Here are a few to check out:

  • The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF)
  • Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI)
  • Flexographic Technical Association (FFTA)
  • Printing Industry Midwest (PIM)

Knowing that you have an interest in Graphic Communications is a great step forward. Keep working hard and know that you’re entering into an industry that is full of opportunity. Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance at


How to get in to the Industry

Some secondary schools offer graphic communication and imaging courses through their career and technical education centers. Approximately 130 colleges and community colleges offer graphic communication programs. Our industry is interested in all individuals who are interested in learning a good vocation, having a solid career path, and making a good living in the graphic communication field.

Graphic communications is a catch-all term for all the industries involved in reproducing an image. The image, whether it be a word, photograph, or illustration, can be reproduced on paper, cloth, metal, glass, plastic, or a variety of other media so that the message can be widely seen. There are a wide range of career opportunities spanning printers, publishers, packagers, paper makers, ink makers, equipment manufacturers, and in-house design and printing departments within corporations, banks, and even retail stores.

This highly technical industry employs men and women working as chemists, engineers, computer programmers, writers and editors, designers, marketing specialists, researchers, machine operators, technicians, salespeople, managers, photographers, and bindery workers, as well as a variety of other positions.

Some of these occupations require a college degree. Many can be obtained with a technical degree or sometimes only a high school degree. Students interested in pursuing post-secondary education in a field related to graphic communications should contact the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF, for additional information about scholarships as well as a directory listing technical schools, colleges, and universities offering courses in graphic communications. Joining the graphic communications industry is a wise career choice for high school graduates, college graduates, and vocationally trained students.

Graphic communications is all around us: When we read a newspaper, novel, or cereal box; drink from a beverage can; open a can of soup; or eat from a bag of pretzels. Products of this huge industry include booklets and product literature, the greeting cards we send, the signage in a store, and the direct mail you receive through the post office. We are surrounded by the products of graphic communications even including forms such as printed wallpaper, designed and printed bedsheets, clothing, flooring and even the printed face of an alarm clock. Everything from billboards and comic strips to toothpaste tubes and detergent boxes are produced by the graphic communications industry.

The demand for printed end products has expanded and will continue to grow. Consumption of printed products per capita in the United States has never been so high. Despite the increased use of the personal computer, mobile devices, the internet, and the prediction of a paperless society, the demand for printed products continues. The age of convenience and throw-away packaging continues to keep the graphic communications industry producing a wide variety of books, catalogs, corrugated boxes, magazines, labels, food (flexible) packaging, brochures, newspapers, and greeting cards.

This on-going demand for printed products has stabilized the number and variety of job opportunities in graphic communications. The ongoing technological advancements in the graphic communications industry is another reason for the existence of so many opportunities for college and vocational graduates. Graphic communications is not just an operator working with presses; it is also people working with computers, lasers, and even satellites. The included examples of potential careers in graphic communications will help to illustrate a few of the possible paths to be considered in an industry that employs so many and touches so many lives daily.

Career Potential

Careers in Graphic Communication

The industry will need machine operators, bindery workers, sales and customer service people, computer operators, graphic artists and designers, chemists, machinists, warehouse operators, mechanics, production supervisors, and all forms of management. Our occupation is stable, and there is ample opportunity for career growth. Individuals who have a high school education can start out as trainees and learn on the job for many positions. With time, they can advance to lead positions and into supervisory positions.

Opportunities for post-secondary education to prepare for a graphics career are available in many forms. Technical colleges offer one- and two-year programs in production and management. There are four-year degrees at several colleges to pursue print management. Continuing education is an important part of the industry as new processes and methods are introduced. Industry associations, manufacturers, technical colleges, and in-house training are among the many ways that workers continue to gain knowledge. There are scholarships available for students who want to pursue higher education and a career in graphic communications. These are offered for all levels of post-secondary.

Companies in the graphic communication industry offer competitive starting wages and salary packages compared to other fields. Nearly all companies offer comprehensive insurance and benefit packages to their employees with 97% having health plans, and a majority offering 401k or other retirement savings plans. The average wage per hour for production personnel averages higher than those in automotive repair and maintenance, and considerably higher than retailing or health aides.

Regardless of the area of a company that a person may be considering going into, today’s mix of technology, craft, and communication skills require bright talented people. Today’s customers have ever-rising expectations and projects continue to increase in their complexity. This requires individuals with a high level of skill sets, including verbal and written communication, math skills, computer literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Naturally, a good work ethic is always important.

Great Lakes Graphics Association—Career Opportunities in the Graphic Arts

An Overview of the Graphic Communications Industry

Traditionally the industry has encompassed many segments such as general commercial printing, quick printing, digital imaging, magazines, newspapers, books, display graphics, financial and legal printing, screen printing, labels and tags, packaging, greeting cards, and trade and finishing services. (These are encompassed by NAICS code group 323). With the technological changes and broadening scope of services provided by companies in the field today, the graphic communications industry has expanded to include creative design, retail display design, e-commerce, web page design and hosting, mailing, fulfillment, and a host of services that provide horizontal marketing well beyond the core printing model.

We help the world communicate across a wide range of platforms. Ideas are created on the computer and carried through to a variety of platforms that can include the internet as well as printed forms of many types and variations. These can range from personalized digital imaging to high volume conventional printing to graphics on the side of a bus. Many graphic communication jobs are high tech, high skill, high paying, creative, and innovative. They cover a wide range of positions from professional and managerial, to administrative, sales, and job planning through production positions operating machines.

Graphic communication companies are entrepreneurial and innovative. They range from small companies with a few employees to large plants with several hundred people on multiple shifts. They have modern computerized equipment and stay current with technology changes taking place in the field. Most offer competitive benefits packages and compensation plans. All offer a solid career in a stable industry.

Graphic communications are America’s most geographically dispersed manufacturing industry and is a major force in the economy of nearly every state. Every state has at least 100 facilities, 1000 employees, and over $140 million in production. The average state has over 500 companies totaling 10,000 employees with over $1.8 billion in shipments. You can go virtually anywhere in the country and get a job working in the graphic communications profession. Almost all printing and imaging that is consumed in the United States is produced in the U.S. and the industry exports billions of dollars of products to other countries. In fact, the U.S. graphics industry is projected to remain a strong domestic-based manufacturing industry for the foreseeable future.