logo

Alumni in Print - Where Are They Now? - John Ensink

February 22, 2017

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

John Ensink - PGSF AlumniJohn Ensink attended Ferris State University. He received his B.S. Graphic Media Management with minor in Marketing in December, 2014

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

I was a non-traditional student. I got my first job in the printing industry back in 1980 and worked in the industry for 10 years before deciding to go to school and earn degrees in Printing Technology and Technical Education. I taught graphic arts at the high school level for fifteen years until my program was closed in 2010 with the help of the faltering economy and the belief that the manufacturing sector was on its way out. After trying to return into the industry for over a year, I decided to return to school and earn my fourth degree.

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

I did not take any courses in high school that were related to the field. I wish I had because I would have gotten to know a great teacher, Mike Stinnett, who I met many years later while teaching.

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

The education process prepared me in so many ways throughout the years. Once again I have four degrees, two in printing/graphic communications and one in technical education, along with a Master’s in education technology. This has afforded me valuable insight into the importance of education and where it can take you in life. Going back to school in my fifties was not easy, but it sure was rewarding. I was lucky enough to have a few classes with some of my former students, giving me a chance to re-learn what it is like to be on the other side of the desk while still being able to teach in small ways how to seize the moment and make the most out of learning. There was so much in the industry that passed me by while I was teaching. Sure, I tried to keep up on the latest and greatest, but it is hard to put it into practice when you teach the basics.

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 am working for a great company now, SpartanNash. They are a food distribution company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a global footprint. I am working as an Account Representative doing cost estimating and customer service in their in-plant graphic services area. We produce point of sales products for both corporate and retail grocery customers, along with a healthy commercial client base.

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

I think employers are looking for their entry level employees to have a strong working knowledge of the industry. They are looking for someone who is receptive to the environment, while being able to bring new ideas to the table. I also think they are looking for people who have developed the soft skills needed to properly serve their customers, while being a good fit with the culture of the 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 never thought I would not have been a printing teacher until the day I retired. I love this industry and the challenges you face every day. However, I truly loved teaching others about this wonderful, culturally rich, challenging industry that has been so strong and influential for over 500 years.

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?

Oh, boy have I… Refer back to my previous comments.

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

I am at that age where I am no longer looking to climb up any ladders. Sure, I hope to advance my financial situation and will pursue opportunities when they arise but that is about it.

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?

Being a recipient of the PGSF scholarship was extremely important. I cannot say that I would have been able to move forward in my career without it. For me, education has always been the answer to advancement in life. I never would have thought that after being in the printing industry for 30 years that I would hear potential employers tell me that I did not have the right experience. Being able to go back to school and update myself was monumental in my ability to re-enter the industryl workforce. I owe a debt of gratitude the PGSF and my donor company Skinner & Kennedy Co. for all they did to help me in my time of need.

Anything else that you would like to add?

From the bottom of my heart thank you for all you have done, and will continue to do for others wishing to learn about our industry.


Print and Graphics Scholarship FoundationPGSF works to inform young people about the opportunities that are available in the graphic arts industry and then support them during their educational phase. To learn more about PGSF, or how you can support its work, visit www.pgsf.org or contact John Berthelsen at jberthelsen@printing.org. PGSF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.Basic HTML code is allowed.