The packaging industry is full of professional organizations such as the Flexible Packaging Association, PMMI: The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the Paperboard Packaging Council, and the Adhesive and Sealant Council. Even from this list, you can see that there are plenty of resources out there that support or represent the packaging field.
For their sixth mission, the Mission: Packaging students did some investigating. Their goal? To learn more about a packaging organization – one that they felt would be beneficial to them as they start their packaging careers. In the end, they each chose to review IoPP – the Institute of Packaging Professionals.
Anna: Western New York IoPP
I haven’t graduated college yet, but I can already tell that packaging is a big industry with a small town feel. Having said this, there are several associations and organizations in the industry that are working with companies, suppliers, schools, and the public in order to help increase the knowledge and understanding of packaging in our everyday lives. A few of these companies are PMMI: The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, WPO: World Packaging Organisation, Flexible Packaging Association, Corrugated Packaging Alliance, and IoPP: Institute of Packaging Professionals.
IoPP is one of the more well-known packaging organizations as they have been actively involved in the academic level of the industry for the past several years. IoPP is a membership-based organization with several tiers of memberships, ranging from the Elite to student level.
IoPP’s involvement in academia complies with their mission statement of “creating networking and educational opportunities that help packaging professionals succeed.” Each year, the organization promotes several events that allow students to interact with professionals already in the industry. Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is located in Western New York, which is where the Western New York IoPP branch is based. This allows our school to have tremendous networking opportunities, including mentorship programs, professional outings, fundraisers, and several other events.
Last year I had the opportunity, with three of my fellow classmates, to participate in the annual WNY IoPP Golf Tournament, which brought packaging professionals and students together for a fun day of fundraising for the organization as well as for our school.
For professionals already in the industry, IoPP provides several courses, both free and paid, relating to the packaging industry in order to help with staying up-to-date on the new technologies and regulations; provides a paid certification course to become a certified packaging professional, an offering that has been shown to increase pay by 7-10% when compared to non-certified peers; as well as several publications that are useful in the packaging industry, including the Fibre Box Handbook.
For students, IoPP also provides several networking opportunities that help with the transition from school to the industry, whether it is through co-ops, internships, or full-time jobs. They also provide several scholarships to be used toward education.
Garrett: IoPP Fox Valley
One of the smallest, most localized IoPP chapters in the United States is conveniently located in my hometown. The IoPP Fox Valley Chapter prides themselves on that. In June of each year, they raise funds for a scholarship they give to UW-Stout, called Fox Valley Chapter IoPP Scholarship. A fundraiser they put on is a golf outing, which is held at Fox Hills Resort in Mishicot, WI, and it is the largest fundraiser they have each year. I had the opportunity to attend this outing for the first time this past June and also took my dad with me for Father’s Day. I met a lot of packaging industry professionals and had a good time golfing and spending quality time with my father.
One packaging professional in particular I spoke with was Mike Scheel, the treasurer of the local chapter. Mike is also a part of the UW-Stout Packaging Industry Advisory Board. I asked him about the differences between local chapters, like Fox Valley, and larger ones, like Wisconsin’s chapter. He said, the larger (state and national) chapters serve as a resource for continuing education for professionals, additional networking and a technical resource. On the flip side, at the local level, we focus on networking regionally. Small social gatherings and some technical events like plant tours or guest speakers.
Another question I asked was regarding how active a smaller chapter like the Fox Valley one really is. He responded with an honest answer suggesting that it really depends on the chapter leadership and how much effort, planning and communication they want to put into it. Active leaders will generate active chapters. He’s seen his fair share of average – and incredibly good leaders – over the past 31 years.
Eric: IoPP – The Professional Organization
Throughout the packaging industry, there is a large selection of resources available for every packaging specialty. While navigating through a collegiate packaging degree program, a resource many students find particularly useful is IoPP.
As stated in their mission statement, IoPP focuses on “creating networking and educational opportunities that help packaging professionals succeed.” As a membership-oriented organization in the packaging community, IoPP reaches out to students, professionals, and retirees by offering a range of membership options. Memberships offer access to a wide variety of benefits, including educational growth, networking opportunities, and career-building tools. As an example in the area of continuing education offerings, IoPP has an array of in-person training seminars as well as online training courses and Webinars. Along with many regional chapters, the organization has also built a network of student chapters at leading packaging schools throughout the country to enhance the education of the rising generation of professionals.
For those seeking an organization driven to both educate and connect the packaging industry, IoPP has a great deal to offer. With its commitment to promote, grow, and educate the packaging industry and its workforce, there is no doubt it is creating opportunities and a pathway to success for the packaging professionals of tomorrow.
Learn more about IoPP at IoPP.org.