As a technology student, your skills are now in higher demand more than ever, so choosing a career involves carefully considering a number of options. One career path you might not have considered is the pulp and paper industry, where several factors are fueling an effort to recruit the best and brightest students. For example, large companies like International Paper, New Page and others are actively pursuing engineering and technology talent to replace the wave of retiring baby boomers. Also, major universities with paper studies are offering full scholarships to promote industry advancement.
The paper industry offers an incredible opportunity to work with other science and engineering professionals in a truly high-tech environment that produces environmentally responsible products. When looking at your career options, consider these three T’s when the pulp and paper industry comes to mind!
SPREAD THE WORD. If you are interested in helping bring new talent to the paper and packaging industries, become a speaker! It's easy and our speaker kit provides you with the tools you need to reach the next generation of talent for the industry. As a talent search speaker, you visit students from your alma mater or local school and give a presentation that is included our easy to use kit. Simply fill out the short form below and a TAPPI Staff member will contact you and help get you started.
If you join the pulp and paper industry, you can work with some of the most advanced production and information systems in the world. Modern paper manufacturing facilities use state-of-the-art automation and intelligent systems that offer a safe and exciting environment for engineers and skilled technicians to apply their expertise and education. Whether you like chemistry, physics, computer science or just solving problems, each area of the mill can put your skills to the test on a daily basis.
Not only are the mill systems and equipment cutting edge, so are the paper products themselves. The paper industry offers the opportunity to work with advanced products and technologies, such as nanoscience, bioreactive papers that detect and kill bacteria, recyclable paper cell phones and much more. Innovative new products that exploit paper’s unique benefits are created each day.
It’s also easy to be green in the paper industry. In fact, many technical students are drawn to the pulp and paper industry by the opportunity to create 100% renewable, wood-fiber based products. In addition, the industry provides a chance to work with renewable, non-petroleum based energy sources for use both in and outside of the mill.
The pulp and paper industry needs your technical talent – and now! The hundreds of mills in operation – more than 400 mills in the U.S. alone -- are in great need of the right employees, according to TAPPI, the industry’s leading association. The demand for science and technology graduates is expected to continue, and salaries are extremely competitive with other industries, with median incomes consistently growing during the past 10 years.
Why is the paper industry so challenged to attract new recruits? From 2007-2012, one-fifth of the North American paper industry’s workforce is set to retire, leaving paper companies scrambling for more than 3,000 new employees each year that possess the right skill sets to work in an advanced manufacturing environment. Engineers, chemists, IT professionals and operators with education ranging from associate to graduate degrees are needed to fill the gap.
If you choose to study paper science or a related field, tuition assistance is widely available. To entice top students, scholarships are available through associations like TAPPI and colleges and universities with pulp and paper programs – many of which cover full tuition. Many such scholarships are the result of endowments that the industry has created over time to advance paper science, technology and products.
In addition to tuition assistance, you will also find many opportunities for paid summer internships and cooperative work-study programs in the paper industry. Co-ops and interns are offered the same employment packet as new hires and are automatically enrolled in a 401K plan for their time with the company. Many of these students are guaranteed a job by their employers upon graduation.
Here is how Nicholas King, a North Carolina State University junior majoring in Paper Science Engineering and Chemical Engineering, views his experience so far in the pulp and paper industry. Nicholas is also a recipient of a 2009 TAPPI Coating and Graphic Arts Division Scholarship:
“Going into my senior year of high school I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but I had no idea what concentration of engineering I liked best. After attending an orientation where I was able to see NC State’s paper machine in action, I immediately decided to enroll in the Paper Science program. So far, I have enjoyed working in my major by interning with Procter & Gamble and working over last summer as a research intern in our department here at State. Both of my summer internships helped me solidify my knowledge and interest in the paper industry.”
Check out what other TAPPI student members and scholarship winners are saying about careers in pulp and paper.
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