A recent article from the Portland Press Herald describes the success of the University of Maine’s efforts to place engineering students in the pulp & paper industry. 100% job placement is an outstanding track record that few programs can match.
In support of these efforts the university has a high school outreach program called Consider Engineering, a scholarship program and an ongoing effort to place students in industrial co-op jobs and internships. At Sappi, we have supported all of these efforts for years and will continue to do so.
In our 2013 Sustainability Report we highlighted a recent commitment of an additional $100,000 for the Pulp & Paper Foundation’s scholarship program, our employees routinely volunteer for the outreach program, and the student quoted in the Portland Press article, Kelsey Bolduc, will be working as an intern at our Somerset Mill this fall. We have also pledged support to the University of Southern Maine as well as the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, MN.
We routinely hear from students and new hires that the pulp in paper industry is “under-rated” or “way more technically challenging” and “far more rewarding” than they had imagined. A critical step in recruiting is to simply create the awareness of the industry and let them see a paper mill first hand. There is nothing else quite like it. And, of course, there are many jobs in the industry that are not directly tied to operations.
Speaking from personal experience, I know that these collective efforts make a difference. As an undergraduate student at the University of New Hampshire in the 1980’s, I had an opportunity to visit Sappi’s Westbrook Mill on a field trip – an event that literally changed my life. I went on to study pulp and paper science at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (on a full scholarship) and after living in the southeast for most of my 20’s and 30’s made it back to New England when I joined Sappi in 2006.
In the course of my career, I have had held positions in R&D, as a mill environmental engineer, in product development, business development and most recently in the field of sustainable development. I have traveled much of the US and Canada, as well as to Europe and South Africa. I have also had the opportunity to work with a breadth of organizations including NGO’s, trade associations, customers, equipment manufacturers, design firms, the media and government agencies. And I’m only just past the mid-point of my career.
The opportunities in our industry are plentiful. But we must continue to create the visibility and make the effort to tell our stories. Kudos to the University of Maine for continuing to do so.