In April, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) and its Emerging Leadership Council (ELC) sponsored Pack Jam at Clemson University in Clem-son, South Carolina.
Pack Jam is an annual student-run conference hosted at packaging universities nationwide. It is a three-day event where packaging students participate in social and educational activities to connect and network with fellow students and industry professionals. Packaging students attended from several schools, such as Rutgers University, Michigan State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and Virginia Tech.
In addition to sponsoring lunch, FPA and ELC held career panels during several breakout sessions throughout the conference. I worked with ELC member Amy Presher of Profol on the panel alongside Justinian Broughton from Pregis. The panel began with brief introductions of each panel member who outlined their background, how and why they got into the flexible packaging industry, and what excites them most about the industry. The sessions were intended to be interactive with the students, so the remaining time was left open for questions. There was insightful engagement from the students who asked various questions ranging from career advice to sustainability. It was clear sustainability is the primary interest for the next generation of packaging professionals.
The panel put flexible packaging on the list of employment opportunities for the upcoming generation as they look forward to graduation and full-time employment. But it also told the story that flexible packaging is and can be sustainable. It was a chance to show the students that consumer packaged goods companies aren’t the only career opportunities for packaging students. There is a massive pool of jobs and opportunities to consider along the supply chain.
Finally, FPA and ELC participated in a networking fair to further advocate the flexible packaging industry to students. It also provided a chance to educate the students on industry organizations and what they provide for member companies. It turned out this was an unfamiliar concept to many of the students, and it was beneficial to explain some of the industry dynamics.
The event was successful in promoting and educating our future workforce about the opportunities in the flexible packaging industry. The panelists showed insight into the industry that resonated with many of the students and got them excited about all of the opportunities that await them.
Paul Cucco is technical manager at C-P Flexible Packaging.