"Super" 2005 Student Summit in Super Bowl city.
"With many of our industry leaders set to retire in the next 5 years, pulp and paper education has never been more important," noted Wayne Gross, president of TAPPI. "The Student Summit is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about leadership, interviewing techniques, and career opportunities within the paper industry." Fifty-four students and 2 faculty advisors representing 18 universities in the United States, Canada, and Finland and 18 industry professionals attended the event. Miami University brought two vans of students and IPST at Georgia Tech and Western Michigan University each had 6 students attending.
One of the highlights of the summit was the Saturday afternoon tour of the Jacksonville Busch Brewery. Following the tour, the student chapter presidents met to exchange ideas on chapter operations including fund raising, recruiting techniques, and succession planning.
Sunday was a day full of intense presentations. The morning session focused on leadership and included presentations from Willis Potts, TAPPI chairman, and Kathy Buckman Gibson of Buckman Laboratories Inc. Bill Hauserman of Application Solutions Group discussed what is needed to be successful in students' first assignments relative to people and project management. Dana Dolloff of Rayonier joined the morning presenters for a question and answer session on leadership.
In the afternoon, students heard about employment opportunities and received guidance on interviewing and hiring practices. Sonny Jackson, mill division vice president and general manager at Smurfit-Stone Container, reviewed the division's new employee development programs related to co-op and intern positions as well as placement of new hires. Bruce Hohensee and Brooks Andrews of Hercules addressed interviewing skills. A panel of human resource professionals (Hohensee, Andrews, Doug Duncan of Smurfit-Stone and Wendy Clarke of TAPPI) as well as recent graduates (Eric Alley of Georgia-Pacific and Jennifer Matthews of MeadWestvaco) answered students' questions on hiring practices and first assignment experiences.
The program concluded with presentations from Jim Thompson, Talo Analytic International, and David Ashcraft, North Carolina State University, on getting a position in a tough world and transitioning into the workforce. Thompson impressed upon the students the need to treat the interview as an "audition."
On Sunday evening, the students enjoyed a banquet at the River City Brewing Co. After dinner, they were organized into teams and competed in an engineering design competition. The teams had less than an hour to complete their task to build a device that would fly unaided through the air and land at a predetermined distance using only the household items supplied in a paper bag. The scoring was based upon an extensive formula. The winning team used partial differential equations to optimize the equation. One student commented, "The engineering competition was nice because we met people from other schools and worked with the presenters." And another said, "I enjoyed the design competition because it allowed people from all different disciplines to work together and share ideas."
A new feature of the Summit was the resume critique service. Wendy Clarke, TAPPI's human resource administrator, reviewed students' resumes and provided feedback from a human resources perspective.
"It pointed out some things I had been doing on my resume for years that should be changed," noted one student. Another commented, "The resume critique service gave me the chance to have my resume reviewed from a human resource perspective. Professors in my department have reviewed my resume, but they have done so with a technical eye rather than a soft skills eye."
Smurfit-Stone's Fernandina Beach Mill hosted a mill tour and box plant tour and offered an in-depth discussion of the mill's operations on Monday morning. Several students mentioned that the mill tour was what they liked best about the Summit.
TAPPI and PIMA wish to thank Smurfit-Stone Container, Buckman Laboratories, Inc., International Paper, Interstate Paper, Metso Paper USA, and Potlatch for contributing to the sponsorship of the Student Summit.
Overall, 93% of attendees rated the 2005 Student Summit as "good" or "very good." Plans are already underway for the 2006 Student Summit, which will be held January 14-16 in Charleston, South Carolina or Memphis, Tennessee.
LAURA FEIX, TAPPI