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

Melissa DiVietri has a degree in Graphic Media Management with an emphasis in Advertising Integrated Marketing Communications from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan. She graduated in 2014.

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

I became interested in graphic arts and traditional printing during high school. I was a sophomore student that toured the technical student, Jackson Area Career Center in the visual communications program. I was a creative individual that was interested in graphic design and traditional printing.

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

I attended the Jackson Area Career Center in the Visual Communications program as a dual-enrolled student learning the basics of typography, prepress, cutting, bindery, customer service, screen printing and more. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be good fit in print or design because everything was so new. I attempted to switch out of the program into the Health field but there was a semester long waiting list. My printing professor, Mr. John Ward refused to allow me to leave the program because I was one of his top students. He saw a spark in my eye as I designed on Photoshop and worked directly with professors on their print needs.
late after class to work on additional customer services projects. I never missed a day of class and this was my first “All A’s” that I ever received in high school. If it weren’t for John Ward, I wouldn’t have this career in printing and have stuck at something that I was really good at, but didn’t know that it would become something like this. Many years later, in 2011, I received the distinguished alumni award for printing at the Jackson Area Career Center.

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

After high school, I continued higher education at Jackson College and then Ferris State University. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of industry trends so I could excel as a young professional in printing. I really enjoyed the color management classes with Mr. John Conati, the prepress printing demonstrations with Mr. Ramon Robinson and the management courses with Mr. Pat Klarecki. I was enticed to learn as much as I could in this always changing industry. I am appreciative for my higher education from Ferris State University because I molded into a professional student with a skillset that is relative to our current trends. College is not easy, and I’m thankful for the challenges to learn new programs that were coming out left and right. For example, many of the classes were teaching industry related software like Web2Print and color management. I taught myself how to troubleshoot and find out answers from support forums. I apply those skills to my workflow to this day.

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 the founder of the digital media agency, DI DESIGNS STUDIO in Detroit, MI. A few of my clients in the print industry include:

  • Pitney Bowes; social media content creator
  • Graphic Arts Show Company / NPES; social media strategist
  • Inkish.TV; social media consultant

 

What was your first job in the printing industry?

My first position was an intern at Grass Lake Times, the newspaper print shop in Grass Lake, Michigan. I utilized page layout software to create the columns, text boxes and images for the newspaper. I was an active writer that published articles in the Grass Lakes Times. It was a thrill to have a position during high school in the workforce while I was studying in school. I felt like I was ahead of the game by working and studying for something that I passionate about.

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

Employers are looking for adaptable professionals that have a range of skillset in print, design, software, IT and marketing. They are seeking motivated individuals who can work under strict deadlines but are also motivated to bring new opportunities to the business now that you’ve progressed through your work career for a period of time?

I found that once you learn something… something new comes out. You are constantly educating yourself on the current expectations of our industry. It is very important to be open-minded to learn more about what is happening in trends. I spend an hour each day on YouTube or reading industry magazines so I can visually think of that company and what they are doing to scale their business.

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 was open-minded when I first considered graphic communications. I thought that I wanted to be a graphic designer, but then I fell into running the prepresses and eventually became a manager. I started my graphic design and traditional print business during high school with a DBA for small business. My first clients were those who I met in the Visual Communications program. I developed my first client list of professors, students, graduates, community organizations.

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

I visualize stepping up my international clients for my digital media agency in Detroit. I travel every month to a different country teaching print, social media and marketing. I see myself becoming an industry influencer for young professionals who are knocking on doors for opportunities in this field. I am a positive role model who constantly gives back to the students. I started a scholarship at Ferris State University for the Graphic Media Management program. I am donating $2,000 each year to divide 4 scholarships of $500 each.

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?

I was a PGSF recipient each year during my studies at Ferris State University. This scholarship had an instrumental impact on my future to assist with my tuition and books. I combined this scholarship along with many others to remain debt free from school. I told myself if I spend one hour each day researching and applying to a scholarship, then that would equal 1 semester credit hour. My hard work paid off because I am not only debt free; I am a considered a strategist for my research abilities.

Anything else that you would like to add?

To learn firsthand what the print industry has coming next, I highly recommend attending the Graph Expo trade show that is held each year. When you attend this conference, you learn from hands on demonstrations, attend educational seminars and network with influencers from those companies.