Alumni in Print—Where Are They Now?

The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation is publishing profiles featuring some of their more than 6000 former scholarship recipients. This series gives you an up close and personal insight into the thoughts and motivations of the former students who are a part of our industry today. As our current employees reach retirement and leave, replacing them becomes an increasingly important factor for many companies. Here is one story…

A Profile

Chris Olberding graduated from Clemson University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communications and a minor in Business Administration.

How did you first get interested in the graphic arts, or decide to focus on graphic communications in school?

As long as I can remember, I was always drawn to the fine arts as a kid—especially sketching and drawing. I looked at a variety of colleges and majors that incorporated that skillset and ultimately chose Clemson University for Graphic Communications.

Did you take any courses in high school that were related to graphic communications, or that prepared you for your planned career?

The closest related classes I had available in high school were the fine arts classes. While these classes were great, and helped hone necessary skills, I wish there were classes more representative of the real world and designed with computer applications.

How do you think going through your education process prepared you for the workforce?

Clemson’s Graphic Communications curriculum was instrumental to my assimilation into the workforce. Not only did we learn all about the industry and the way companies operated, but we were able to experience everything first hand. We ran printing presses, completed prepress, photography, estimated print jobs, learned all the necessary computer applications, etc.

In Today’s Workforce

What company are you working for now and what types of products and services do they provide to their customers?

I am currently a Strategist at Gravity in Cincinnati, Ohio. We are a mid-size design studio that focuses on brand strategy and specializes in packaging.

What job did you first have with the company when you started, what position do you have now, and/or what else have you done since joining the company?

My first position at Gravity was an Account Manager for two large brands. I am now currently serving as a Strategist for all our brands. While working as an Account Manager, I found myself doing progressively more strategic work for my brands, and eventually the company made the position change official.

What do you think employers are looking for in today’s workforce and the current industry environment?

I believe people with the ability to problem solve are highly desired in today’s workforce. Someone who is self-motivated to find problems or issues and work to fix them is invaluable to a company.

Is there anything that you have found to be particularly different from what you initially expected, now that you’ve progressed through your work career for a period of time?

I imagine this is similar to how a kid looks at adults and thinks they have it all figured out, only to grow into an adult and experience reality. As a student, you expect the industry professionals to be proverbial experts. While some definitely are, most are just like you and are figuring it out one day at a time.

Have you changed your plans or ideas about what area or type of job you might like to have since you first considered the graphic communications field and began studying for a career in it?

There was a change from my freshman year to graduation. And then again from graduation to where I am now. I feel as though my perspective, wants, and goals will be constantly evolving as my industry experience and knowledge grow. But I do think eventually running my own company would be very exciting.

What do you see yourself doing a few years from now?

Hopefully still this, but further along in my career. Perhaps in a position of management where my ideas can spark a real change in others’ lives.

Was being a recipient of a PGSF scholarship important, or did it have an impact on your future or ability to succeed in the industry?

Receiving a PGSF scholarship was important to me for reasons beyond just the monetary contributions toward my education. It helped me believe in my abilities within this industry space, and to keep pushing myself forward. Not wanting to let my benefactors down, it also gave me a little something additional to work towards.

Anything else that you would like to add?

I’d like to extend my gratitude to PGSF. Not just for my personal scholarship, but for everything they do for our industry. Keep up the great work!