For their final mission, we like to ask our Mission: Packaging students to share some nuggets of wisdom that they have gleamed during the year and would like to pass on to the next class of packaging students. Whether they developed a stronger passion for the packaging industry or discovered a new avenue in the industry that suits their interests, Caroline, Tristen, and Kari gained valuable insight into their future careers. One central theme was reflected in each of their responses: the most important thing for up and coming packaging professionals is to love what you do.
Congratulations to Caroline, Tristen, and Kari for completing Mission: Packaging 2017! We couldn’t be prouder of this year’s participants and can’t wait to see where their futures take them!
Caroline: Never Stop Learning
Over the course of the past ten months I’ve explored both familiar and unfamiliar topics in packaging and have gained knowledge and perspective as a result. Through the Shurtape Packaging Missions I’ve researched trends and innovations in the industry as well as learned more about mistakes and challenges faced. Some of my favorite topics to research included flexible packaging and E-Commerce, which showed me the influence they have on both the manufacturing, marketing, and point of purchase interactions between a packaging product and a consumer. Through the program I’ve also reached out to industry professionals and alumni to learn more about what the industry has to offer and the challenges I’ll be faced with, each time learning something new.
I’ve learned more about what to expect after graduation and particularly that there is still a lot of learning to be done once you enter the industry by speaking with alumni and industry professionals. If I were to pass on one thing on to the next generation of packaging students it would be that you’ll always have opportunities to learn and that your education doesn’t stop after college but rather evolves into something else. For me, this was an exciting realization that showcased the depth the packaging industry has. Additionally, I’ve learned the importance that innovation in packaging has in helping facilitate cheaper, smarter, and safer products that can meet the changing demands of the consumer world. I’ve noticed the design and manufacturing processes, material development, consumer-package interactions, and operating technologies have evolved in the past 5-10 years for the better.
My last token of advice for students who are considering a major in packaging is to learn as much about the industry as you can outside your studies to see if it’s the right fit. This can be done by talking with alumni, participating in design competitions, and working for a company through an Internship or Co-Op. Experience with industry oriented projects not only supplements information you’ll be learning in courses, but also helps develop problem solving skills specific to the industry you’ll be working in. I’ve found the more I learn about packaging, the more opportunities present themselves in this career, and that I spend a lot more time in the grocery store looking at packages!
Tristen: Should you be a Packaging Engineer?
There is so much I can say about the Shurtape Mission experience because I’ve taken away so much from it in the form of inspiration and knowledge. The biggest take away by far has been the many conversations I’ve had with packaging professionals. I’m of a rather strong mindset that the most effective form of learning is thru experience, and the next best option is thru the experiences of others. And it’s this experience that I’ve taken full advantage of, because I’ve learned so many valuable tidbits while speaking with people. A great example was Barbara Porter’s advice on how important expanding your network is as you begin to break into the industry, because that early experience as a student can be incredibly useful down the road. It was useful advice like this that has guided my personal search for information while completing this packaging mission.
I also felt that these many challenges that included learning about topics such as sustainable packaging, flexible packaging, and e-commerce had a strong emphasis on the future, which I feel has extreme value in today’s society. The rapid advancement of technology has put a necessity on staying on top of recent technological trends, and this includes Packaging. These missions gave me great insight into the future of packaging.
The most valuable piece of advice I could offer to someone considering packaging is to heavily question your passions. Question your happiness and whether you are going into packaging for the right reasons. This is a conclusion I’ve drawn from all the people I have interviewed, as they all made clear the importance of loving their job. I’ve found that the diverse routes for success that exist in packaging, including avenues like creative design and heavy collaboration, were extremely appealing to me and have kept me extremely interested in the field. I hope others can do the same.