What led you to GC?
Haley: I started Clemson as a freshman graphic communications student hoping to be the best graphic designer in the field. In high school I took Adobe Photoshop and Digital Multimedia classes and really enjoyed following a product from start to finish. I heard about the graphics program from Clemson’s website and thought it would be perfect for an aspiring graphic designer. However, as I began moving through my classes, I realized I was not all that great at design. Luckily, this program goes far beyond design. I began working with pre-press and workflow tools and various printing presses and realized I was developing a passion for the print production side of the graphics industry. I was able to start with a blank computer screen, design a project, and follow it all the way through until I had a finished, tangible product.
Allie: As a freshman at Clemson, I was deciding between majoring in Graphic Communications and Packaging Science. I always knew I wanted to be in a more creative industry when I graduated, but I wasn’t sure which was right for me. After taking both 1010 and 1020 classes for Packaging Science and Graphic Communications, my decision was pretty clear. Graphic Communications was the right fit for me. One major factor in my decision-making process was not necessarily the curriculum and the 99% job placement, but the GC program’s environment. The personalities of the facility and students created an exciting and welcoming environment that made me feel like more than just a number. Because the GC program is smaller than most majors, the students and facility within the program practically become your family, and Godfrey quickly becomes your home. Older student’s lookout out for and help younger students; faculty members help and go out of their way to ensure your success, and by the time you graduate, you will know every square inch of the Godfrey building. Looking back, I could not be more happy about my decision to join the Clemson Graphic Communications family.
What unique path did you take in GC?
Haley: I started in GC moving through the introductory classes designing products such as booklets, brochures, and t-shirts and printing them on various printing equipment. After a few graphics courses, I took my first internship with Sonoco-Trident, a pre-press and tooling company. I began this internship shadowing various departments. Over the course of what turned into an eight-month internship, I was able to fill in for one of Trident’s account managers while she was on extensive medical leave for the summer. I served as the primary point of contact for many different flexographic accounts and worked with internal team members ensuring all deadlines were met and customers were satisfied. It was an invaluable experience getting to work in the business and manufacturing side of the industry and also work with large CPG organizations. In addition, I interned at a digital and offset printer as a business development intern. I was able to lead sales meetings and provide company tours and lunch meetings to new prospects. By the end of the 12-week internship, I acquired several new accounts that are still doing business with this company.
Allie: The GC program strongly encourages students to take a minor or extra courses in a field that is unique to your personality. Having a strange fascination with product and packaging design, I decided to minor in Packaging Communications. Although a packaging minor requires more hours than most, it opened doors and opportunities that I could have never imagined. Although the GC program has few packaging and product design required courses in the GC program, I quickly learned that the GC program is what you make of it. Each class offers a chance to take your ideas and future career goals and implement them in a project. In almost every GC course I took I was able to work on a project that related to packaging design. Although it may have taken a few extra hours of work and time than those who just meet the requirements, I came out of the GC program with a packaging and graphic design portfolio that reached the standards of most entry-level design positions. Also, because I was able to minor in Packaging Science and create relationships within the program, I was offered the opportunity to receive my master’s in Packaging Science starting the semester after my undergraduate graduation.
Interesting stories that helped shaped my path:
Haley: Throughout my time at Clemson, I have given presentations on the graphics program and industry partnerships, attended industry conferences in Las Vegas, Louisville, and Atlanta, and given tours to GC prospects interested in the program; however, perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences at Clemson was serving as the flexographic teaching assistant for Kern Cox. I managed over forty students on the entire design-to-print process for packaging applications: labels, folding cartons, and flexible film products. Students often depended on me for understanding platemaking or press run questions, and I found great joy in seeing their designs come together after long hours in lab. There is nothing more gratifying than teaching others and watching them succeed. From this experience I developed a passion for the packaging segment of the print and graphics industry. I was also lucky enough to take Brad Wolff’s graphic sales course at Clemson. From this experience, I realized I wanted to be able to work with on the client-facing side of business to understand their needs and develop client relationships even further.
Allie: Each class offered within Clemson GC program provides an opportunity for you to create and develop your path, even the classes you least expect. In the GC444 commercial printing class, we had a chance to create a company and brand for our semester project. I become so invested in my project and the company I created that I decided to continue building off of the company I had created for my packaging science design class. Because packaging design has always been a passion of mine, I spent numerous hours on developing my products and packages for the company I had previously created. My abundance of late night hours spent in the Sonoco Institute helped me better build my relationship with my teacher Aaron Snyder. Later that semester, Aaron talked to Dr. Tonkin and recommended me for the Clemson Packaging Science Masters program. In conclusion, if I had not fallen in love with my company and branding I had created in GC444, I may have never become so invested in my packaging and product design concepts. If that never were to have happened, I may have never been granted the opportunity to continue my education at Clemson. Through all of this, I have learned that the possibilities in the GC program at Clemson are endless, you just have to be willing to find and shape them into your unique path.
Where do you think your opportunities in GC can take you after graduation?
Haley: I will forever be grateful for the incredible opportunities the GC program at Clemson has provided. One of the best selling points of GC is amount of paths you can take after graduation. Whether you have an interest in graphic or web design, pre-press, sales, customer service, account management, process control, lean manufacturing, and the list goes on, you can tailor your Clemson experience to match your interests and skillsets. I have accepted a position as a process engineer with a flexible film packaging company in Georgia. I will travel to various plants to understand their processes and implement their systems and standards into our Georgia facility. Long term, I am interested in sales and management; I want to work with clients to identify their challenges and find solutions to their needs.
Allie: As stated previously, the unique path I took within the GC program lead me to the opportunity to receive my master’s in Packaging Science at Clemson University after graduation. Although I did have other job opportunities in both the marketing and GC industry, I realized that the chance to gain a higher education at Clemson was too great of an opportunity to pass up. Thus, I will be staying at Clemson to complete my masters over the next 18-months and will be graduating in May of 2018.
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