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

Megan Phelan attended Western Michigan University, and received her Bachelor of Science – Printing Marketing in 2002.

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

I entered college at Western Michigan University with a major in Paper Engineering. I was introduced to the Printing curriculum during an Intro to Graphics class I was taking my freshman year. I have always been interested in graphic design and printed materials, so this immediately piqued my interest. I thought a career path in printing would be a much better fit for me personally, and offer a wide variety of career opportunities, so I switched my major to Printing after the first semester.

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

I learned a lot in college about the mechanical printing processes, which I found fascinating. Having an in-depth understanding of the process provided a strong basis for future opportunities in a technical field. I also participated in internships, and held part-time jobs that provided exposure to the print manufacturing environment and helped me adapt the coursework to the “real world.”

In the Workforce Today

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

I work at Kellogg’s/The Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, Michigan. Kellogg’s is a global food manufacturer, primarily producing breakfast foods, snacks and convenience foods.

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?

I started with Kellogg’s six years ago, as an Associate Manager in the Print Services Dept. It provides end-to-end project management of commercial print projects, such as point-of-sale materials, coupons and mailers. My current role is Senior Manager, Merchandising Services, in which I have oversight of the Print Services Department. And, I also lead merchandising display development for several key business units.

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

Hard work ethic, willingness to listen and learn, effective communication and teamwork. Always having an open mind and innovative approach to problem solving.

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 had always envisioned myself working more closely on the technical and manufacturing side of the printing industry. The great part about my current role is that, although I work for a consumer goods company, I still have a connection to the print process through oversight of all printing suppliers and projects, specifying printed materials and designing merchandising displays.

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?

I didn’t start my career with a firm vision of my exact role. I pursued the opportunities that I felt I were best aligned with my talents, and took roles in which I was confident I could deliver excellence to the organization while learning and growing personally. I feel this approach has been very beneficial in providing a wide range of experience and I am very pleased with where my career path has taken me.

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

I plan to continue to grow within the Kellogg organization, perhaps branching out into other areas that I’m passionate about, such as environmental sustainability or community outreach.

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?

My entire college education was self-funded, so every scholarship I received was very important to me. I was determined to graduate in four years, and pursue my career without college debt. The PGSF scholarship contributed to my realization of that goal.

Anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you very much for your scholarship and supporting the pipeline of future leaders in the printing industry!