If you would have asked me 10 years ago what industry I would be working in today, I would have never guessed print. I started my print journey my freshman year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, in Menomonie, WI. It was the enthusiasm and passion about print from one of my professors that really caught my eye. The Graphic Communications Major Program Director, now-retired Dr. Shaun Dudek, inspired my journey to a career in print. As we celebrate Girls Who Print Day, we’ll take a look at how this strong, female mentor led me to success as a young woman in the industry.
As I started my education in print, it was encouraging to have a female presence such as Shaun. She started her passage by working in her father’s print shop as a letterpress and offset press operator. Shaun worked full-time and took classes at her local technical college. Shaun’s passion for print led her to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management. She furthered her education, with a Master’s in Adult Education. Decades later, Shaun returned to school, to obtain her Doctorate in Career and Technical Education to pursue work at the University level.
Shaun’s dedication to learning and growing has always been something I admired as one of her print students. From the very beginning of my education, she made an impact. Her impact has been lasting. Because of Shaun, and another successful female student I looked up to, I applied for scholarships in my freshman year. I continued to receive scholarships my sophomore through my senior years at UW-Stout. These scholarships provided even more opportunities for me outside of the classroom as I attended numerous professional conferences throughout those three years. Shaun and I became quite the professional travel partners for the Graphic Communications Program and we once gave a presentation together. Her spirit for print pushed me out of my comfort zone; something for which I’ll always be grateful.
“A great deal has changed in the last few decades . . . young women are more self-aware. Our industry, whether in the workplace or in the educational field, is seeing a shift where and when learning is taking place.”
– Shaun Dudek
Unfortunately, the world of print education wasn’t always filled with female representation. In fact, Shaun explained that, “in the 1980’s, within my first years of teaching, 90% of the students were male, which has since changed to today’s +60% female classrooms in print and graphics education.” The graphics industry, specifically print, is one that is diverse and flexible for those who choose to build a variety of expertise, regardless of gender. Print is amazing because it offers careers in the technical, mechanical, creative, sales and marketing, and managerial arenas. Those that are passionate can follow whatever road they choose.
Shaun offers up a bit of advice for young women and men, alike, in pursuit of a career in print:
- Don’t question or argue, but professionally produce quality in all aspects of the workplace to the best that you can do. Show, don’t tell.
- Not everyone has a support system, so utilize a teacher or a workplace colleague that you connect and have a good rapport with—not someone that has something to lose when you gain.
- Network to learn—you never know where the next opportunity to develop your career path might come from within the industry. Advocate for yourself and build your own, personal network.
- Never assume to know it all. No matter how much expertise you think you have, there is always someone you can learn from and gain new knowledge from.
In honor of Girls Who Print Day, take a moment to thank the females in the print and graphics industry whom you work with. Recognize the guidance they’ve provided and tell them how grateful you are for their expertise. On behalf of SPC, THANK YOU to all the wonderful women that make this company go around. You are all amazing.
Associate Marketing Manager