Along with companies in most industries, recruiting new talent is a challenge for dealers, distributors, and their customers. One often-overlooked opportunity is establishing internships for students in graphic arts-related programs as well as other specialties such as business management, accounting, and marketing.
Bringing interns into the business is a cost-effective way to get to know a potential new employee, and for them to get to know you. Many college and university programs require an internship during a student’s junior and/or senior year, and sometimes it can be difficult for students to locate these types of positions. By establishing ongoing internship opportunities and promoting them to local colleges and universities, you can take advantage of this opportunity while also giving a deserving student insight into the benefits of joining the industry after graduation.
In addition, bringing in bright, new talent can also provide insight into the business that you might not get from folks who have been in the industry for a long time. Perhaps there are new ways to think about how you market your business. Or there might be new ideas about how you can better help customers navigate the turbulent waters we find ourselves in today, both economically and socially. They might also identify gaps in services that could provide you with new business opportunities. Plus, the intern, given the right roles and responsibilities, can also learn more first-hand about the value of print, managed print services, expert IT support, and other products and services you offer your customers.
During an internship, it is helpful to expose the intern to as much of the business as possible and to give them the opportunity to directly interact with customers. This will provide them with meaningful experiences and knowledge as they head back to school and toward graduation. It will also help them better understand the industry – an understanding that is often colored by the misapprehension that print is dead. It’s not. And you can show them that through these experiences.
Along with providing internships to deserving students, companies like yours can also help add new talent to the industry by participating in scholarship programs. One example is the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF), an independent non-profit organization that has significant funding for various programs – but, of course, can always use more.
According to PGSF Chairperson, Jules Van Sant, “Our programs include grants, our scholarship program, and the T-shirt design contest we have been trying to run every year, which both recognizes young design talent and acts as a fundraiser with the winning T-shirts on sale at shows and in gratitude for individual donations at various events.”
Van Sant revealed that in 2021, PGSF awarded about 200 scholarships, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, for a total of $550,000. “We don’t compete with other scholarship programs,” she added, “so students can apply to others as well.” Traditionally, to qualify for a PGSF scholarship, students had to have a goal of entering an area of print. “If you look at what the schools are teaching, many are teaching user experience (UX), user interfaces (UI), digital marketing, packaging,” said Van Sant. “Consider that a student might think they want to pursue topic X, but they get exposed to Y and Z. If we don’t offer them funding, they may never get that exposure. We need to be broader about who we award these scholarships to.”
PGSF grants are also an interesting opportunity for your business. PGSF grants are awarded for things such as programs to support educators for continuing education, funding for students to attend trade shows, and equipment donations. A PGSF grant could also be applied for to better enable your business to fund an ongoing paid internship program.
Finding and retaining talent to support our evolving industry can be a challenge. By taking advantage of these opportunities—establishing a paid or unpaid internship program, staying in closer communication with local colleges and universities—and high schools—supporting scholarship programs, and looking for grants like those offered by PGSF that can help support your efforts, you can not only take a new approach to attract talent to your business but also support the industry by educating your clients about these opportunities as well.