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Alumni in Print – Where Are They Now? - Karl Strachota

April 20, 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

Karl StrachotaKarl Strachota attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout located in Menomonie Falls. He graduated in May 2005 with a degree in Graphic Communication Management.

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

While attending high school at Milwaukee Tech, we were required to take up a trade. Since I knew of people having jobs in the printing field, I figured I would take up printing as my focus.

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

After freshman year at Tech, we focused in on one trade. For me that was printing, and I would take a class every block (semester, quarter) that would go into different elements of graphic communications.

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

It was helpful not only to get the classroom experience, but I was also able to get hands-on experience. I was in the youth apprenticeship program which offered me the ability to add to my classroom knowledge, make money and earn advanced placement in college credits at Stout.

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 currently work at Arandell Corporation, located in Menomonie Falls, Wisconsin. We are a leader in producing premier catalog production for our clients.  From generating mail lists for our clients, helping with prep files, printing, binding, shipping and mailing catalogs- we are a full-service operation.

PGSF Donate NowWhat 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 began with Arandell in 2006 as a customer service representative. In our operation, this position does a multitude of different things but boils down to taking customer instructions and relaying them to all production departments to achieve what the client wants. Currently, I am in the role of sales support, where I now work with sales, estimating and scheduling departments in order to present a solution for prospective new clients in order to obtain new business.

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

I think that they desire reliability, the ability to be professional in manner and multi-tasking is a must. An individual must be able to handle a large workload, and have a willingness to change/adapt/learn.They should be a self-starter and must be able to communicate in ALL formats- email, phone and in person.

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?

Each role in the company is different, but all are needed to work together. Change will be continuous. You will need to work with everyone in some form, and it is easier to do if you get to know as many people as you can.

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?

Yes, a couple of times.  When I first started, I thought being a pressman would be ideal. Then I thought that sales would be the key to happiness. Now I enjoy my role in sales support, as I work directly with the clients, but with less travel required than if I were in sales myself.

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

I enjoy my current role and the schedule works for my young family as well.  After my kids grow up a bit, my thinking may change once again.

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?

The PGSF scholarship was huge for me, as I grew up very poor. It was to the point where during my senior year in high school I literally lived in a friend’s closet for four months in order to finish high school after my family was evicted from our apartment. The scholarship money from PGSF, and others, were one of the reasons I was able to further my education and be where I am in my career today.

Anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you for believing in me by offering me the scholarship those many years ago. I do appreciate it.

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.

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