A PGSF Success Story: How One Former Recipient Found Industry Success

It’s a positive sight to see all of the 2013-14 Print and Graphic Scholarship (PGSF) recipients, and we wish them the best of luck in their education and future careers! Did you know that since 1956 recipients like them have been making significant impacts as industry professionals? And PGSF is still pushing forward to give more print and graphic arts students an education upon which they can build thriving careers.

We caught up with Joseph Schember of Mohawk Paper, a former PGSF Scholarship recipient who’s just joined the new PGSF Board of Directors. Here he talks about his experience as a student recipient and now as an accomplished industry professional. Joe was excited to share his story and eager to leverage his new role as a board member to give back to PGSF, which he credits as the platform for his success. From where he sits in his big office at Mohawk today, he still expresses his gratitude to PGSF and its drive to help students go from the classroom to the pressroom, boardroom, or wherever opportunity lies.

Q: Tell us about your current work in the graphic arts industry and what you’ve accomplished since graduation.

Joseph Schember: I have been with Mohawk Paper for the last 2½ years as Specialty Digital Product Manager. I assess our clients’ needs and how we can help them make high-value products using their digital equipment by using premium substrates. I enjoy my work here at Mohawk and respect how the company has expanded over the last 80 years and expanded their brand around products for the rapidly growing digital printing market.

Before Mohawk, I was with Canon USA doing product marketing of the Canon Color imagePRESS family of digital presses after graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology. Working with two different suppliers allowed me to see the market as a whole—while with Canon, I would help printers by selling them needed equipment; now with Mohawk, I’m talking to those same printers, but this time I’m showing them ways to leverage their digital printing equipment to produce premium customer applications on high-value substrates. It’s given me a round perspective of their operations and how they work together—finding out where the opportunities are for them to make money.

Q: How did PGSF support your career?

JS: PGSF supplies financial benefits, of course, but there are many other ways they’ve helped me get to where I am. I got involved in the industry immediately through networking. We (PGSF Scholarship recipients) are encouraged to write a letter to a different donor or sponsor for each year we are in the scholarship program updating them on what we’re learning. These contacts are from all across the industry, so I became more aware of different companies and jobs, and they encouraged me to look at all the opportunities. Although I studied Graphic Media Publishing at RIT, I saw many other fields that interested me.

Being a PGSF recipient is also a fantastic resume builder. It helped me get my first job!

Q: What did it mean to you to win a PGSF Scholarship?

JS: I am very appreciative of all the support PGSF has provided me and other students. It instills a sense of pride and confidence that I was chosen for this honor. I feel the program helped me stay motivated and disciplined, since I had to keep my grades up at RIT to be eligible for the yearly scholarship. 

I am excited to continue my involvement with PGSF. This year at PRINT 13 it really came full circle when I was asked to join the 2013 PGSF Board of Directors. I see this as my opportunity to give back to a program that helped shape my career.

Q: Why is it important for you and others to give back to PGSF?

JS: Giving back to PGSF is giving to the future of the graphic arts. Most people in the industry are aware, but I also know from my own experience, that PGSF is dedicated to graphic arts students. Their reputation is unmatched. They support students financially, educationally, and professionally through motivation, networking opportunities, and as a way to get your foot in the door of our industry!

I believe in their mission and readily accepted their invitation to join the 2013 PGSF Board because I want them to be successful in helping other students like they helped me. The program’s continued success is reliant on supporters like us to give back and help provide an education for students and future industry professionals.

Are YOU a former PGSF recipient? To share your PGSF Success Story, contact Bernie Eckert at beckert@printing.org.

You can also chat with others in the PGSF community and see all the latest updates on the PGSF Facebook page.

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