FLEXO: How did you go about learning the intricacies of anilox rollers and their role in the flexographic printing process?
Lippert: In my first few months of my job, I was given the chance to travel with two of our technical sales reps. This really gave me a great understanding of exactly what we do. I can sit in my office all day and read technical pieces about our different engravings, but meeting customers and seeing how they use our rolls day in and day out was the best hands-on teaching I could receive. I was able to see it in different applications, like corrugated and label, from the start of production to the finished product.
FLEXO: One of the biggest takeaways from the FTA Generational Study was a large majority of students studying package printing—83 percent—felt completely unprepared for a job. How did you feel when you started at your first job?
Lippert: Internships are really the best way to prepare for your first out-of-school job. Whether you’re in marketing or production, it pertains to everyone. Gain as much of that experience as you can. Every work environment is different, so seeing how organizations operate on a day-to-day basis is highly beneficial.
FLEXO: What do you think is the biggest misconception about young people in this industry?
Lippert: Millennials really aren’t that bad! There’s this stigma around our generation and despite that, most of us are very conscientious, dedicated employees not unlike the generations before us.
FLEXO: Much is made of the age gap in the workforce, and the friction between younger and more veteran workers. Is there any truth to that?
Lippert: I think a lot of people look at knowledge as power and want to hold on to what they know, but both veterans and newcomers can learn things from each other. Those who have been in the industry longer have seen what can be successful and also what doesn’t work, but younger people entering the industry can bring a different perspective. It’s imperative to be open minded to various insights, because that’s how we all learn and improve our business.
FLEXO: What can human resources managers and company executives do better to attract young talent to their organizations?
Lippert: Be out there where younger people are, participating in job and college fairs. Recruiting has to evolve just like technology and how people are searching for jobs. Be present on social media and show that there are opportunities for anyone at any age.
FLEXO: Why is it important for young people to stay connected to peers of a similar age through groups like the FTA Emerging Leaders Committee?
Lippert: As someone who is more of an outsider to this industry, it’s another resource for me to meet and learn from people my age. It’s comforting to know that there are other people in this industry who are similar in age since there are more veteran workers, so it’s important to stay connected to them.
FLEXO: Any advice or words of wisdom for any young flexographers reading, or students studying flexography and package printing?
Lippert: Just get as much experience as you can while in school. You will never regret taking an internship or networking and meeting people in the industry. You can learn so much from others, and you should always be open to any opportunities that come your way.
FLEXO: As an outsider who didn’t necessarily go to school for printing, what have been some of your challenges working in the industry and how could employers help with that?
Lippert: Not necessarily a challenge, but there is a learning curve. The opportunity to learn from and be mentored by colleagues truly helps in gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the business. Allowing newcomers that experience is something very valuable that employers can do.
The FTA Emerging Leaders Committee brings together young flexographers to participate in problem-solving work groups, tackle unique projects on an as-needed basis, network with peers, gain an inside look into FTA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity in the near future. To join, contact FTA Director of Content & Digital Strategy Brad Pareso.