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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
FTA TODAY strongly encourage the students to attend the Twin Cities Flexo Association (TCFA) meetings every six weeks. At every meeting they have a guest speaker that talks about current fl exo topics. It also gives the students a great atmosphere to meet with potential employers and score some business cards.” BEYOND THE CLASSROOM Aside from in-class training, Dunwoody offers flexo students a couple of other ways to gain valuable experience. The fi rst is a required internship in their final quarter. To help place students, the school hosts what Rivard called an “intern expo,” where the students are exhibitors. “This year we had 28 companies show up,” said Rivard. Local branches of Schawk, Southern Graphics, Cenveo, Vertis, Kodak; as well as companies like The Meyers Printing Companies, General Mills, Smythe, Quality Assurance, Quality Label, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and others were all pres- ent at the most recent event. “Really, all the prepress houses that understand packag- ing always come here,” he said. “The Cenveos have dozens of Dunwoody students working for them. Normally, 100 percent of our students land internships.” There is also a Print Services Center, which is run by students their internship. “One student of mine this year got a promotion during his internship.” “If you are a competent press operator in this town you will be looking at two, three or four different offers,” declared Rivard. “And there’s also a need still for well versed designers, CAD op- erators, etc.” LENDING EXPERTISE Three full-time faculty members are responsible for turning a group of greenhorn, often fresh-out-of-high school kids into seasoned and highly skilled print professionals. Oetjen takes cen- ter stage as the man responsible for teaching all things fl exo—a task made easier by the fact that he himself is a graduate of the program under Joe Tuccitto, then a Dunwoody instructor, who now holds the post of FTA education director. “I’ve got two degrees,” ex- The printing department was recently rededicated as the Harper Center for Graphics Technology in honor of Ron and Katherine Harper (see FLEXO July page 8). plained Oetjen, “one from here and one from Clemson University.” The Minnesota native moved around a bit gaining work experience in the narrow-web and corrugated segments. “I was doing some R&D with Kodak and Integrity Engineering before go- ing to Largo, FL for eight months. and overseen by Esby and Rivard. The Print Services Center ac- cepts paid commercial and pro-bono jobs for local taverns, bands and other companies. This is one of the best places for students to get real-world experience in the business of printing. “The stu- dents learn how to deal with customers, as well as the importance of quality and timeliness,” said Esby. “The challenge is that as soon as they get good at it, they graduate,” commented Rivard. “As soon as they are at the point that they can run the place, they walk out of here.” He noted that those students who take advantage of the Print Services Center tend to get fought over during the intern expo. “One student of ours is currently in Schawk’s design department, which is un- heard of. A person from the local design schools would cut his/ her throat for that job. But he can get it because he has year’s worth of real world work, all from the Print Services Center. Another is doing high-end Photoshop work at Vertis. One press guy is also at Schawk, as a production coordinator. He is working with General Mills to redesign every SKU of Yoplait, resulting from an ingredient change. That’s a major account to be working on in your internship.” According to Oetjen, the students are well equipped to grasp good jobs immediately upon graduation, a fact that is clearly re- sponsible for Dunwoody’s greatest boast: for the past eight years, 100 percent of all print program graduates have been placed. “We give them such a good base knowledge that they can easily hit the ground running,” he said. “Most of them start out as press help- ers right away. They tend to advance very quickly.” Usually, Oetjen claimed, students will get hired on at the place where they did 86 F LEXO AUGUS T 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g After that, I worked at the PrintCon facility at Clemson. Then I came back here. I started as full-time faculty this past September.” The job, he claimed, really suits him. “I absolutely love it! I can’t push around pixels all day. Not to mention, when you are working with a student and you see that light go on in his/her head and he/she just gets it, it makes me so happy. I can’t wait until I get to see my fi rst graduating class walk. Rivard recalled meeting Oetjen back before he had even en- rolled at Dunwoody. “Joe and I met Shawn when he was still in high school. We went out to his class to talk about Dunwoody and sometimes you light a fi re in someone and sometimes you don’t but this guy was right there in the front of the class.” “I catch myself repeating what Joe said to me when I was a student here,” said Oetjen.
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008