Live at the Ryerson GCM Job Fair yesterday: Our industry’s future is in good hands

Rachel Lindsay (L) and Sarah McLean worked the Registration Desk and welcomed everyone.
Rachel Lindsay (L) and Sarah McLean worked the Registration Desk with wide smiles.

On Wednesday, March 23, I had the honour of attending Ryerson University’s annual Graphic Communications Management (GCM) Job Fair and, once again, left with a renewed confidence that the future of our industry is in exceptionally good hands. For me, the reasons have always been two-fold.

First, there’s the dedication and hard work of the students and instructors in this highly successful four-year, degree-granting course. In other words, graduates are fully prepared to enter a highly-skilled workforce. Second, and equally important, is the engagement and loyal participation of leading companies in the printing industry who, year in year out, take a pro-active approach and make a genuine commitment to seek out the best possible young talent from our top educational institutions.

82 companies, 200 students

Paul Kett, GM at trade- only Printer Gateway.

The event, which took place at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) in downtown Toronto at 4 pm yesterday afternoon, continues to be an opportunity for employers to network and interview students seeking summer internships or full-time career positions. In 2016, the GCM Job Fair attracted 69 industry firms. This year, 82 graphic communications, printing and other related companies participated – and interviewed more than 200 students.

I’ve always found its format interesting, perhaps reflecting the hectic pace in most print shops across Canada. After a greeting from Ryerson Graphic Communications Management Chair Ian Baitz, the event began using a ‘speed-networking’ approach where graduating students and potential interns, divided into two separate time sessions, spend 10 minutes with prospective employers before moving on to a new company’s table at the sound of a gong. (Yes, there’s an actual gong that’s hit to remind students to move along).

Ryerson GCM Chair Ian Baitz.
Ryerson GCM Chair Ian Baitz greeted everyone.

The March 23 event saw graduating-student interviews from 4pm to 6 pm, followed by a buffet-style dinner for participating companies, and then intern interviews between 7 pm and 9 pm.

Traditionally, each company interviews about 24 students – 12 graduates and 12 interns. And since firms can’t interview each and every student who participates in that time frame, they’re invited to collect as many resumés as they feel necessary in order to expand and finalize their talent search.

Nahom Firew (L) and Brian Meshkati from trade printer Sinalite.
Nahom Firew (L) and Brian Meshkati from trade printer Sinalite.

Interns are normally looking for full-time work (40 hours per week) from May to August. The graduation requirement is 420 hours of work. That being said, most students are interested in working for the entire summer to gain more experience. The average pay in previous years has been $14–$18 per hour.

Another thing I noticed at this event: As with the Ryerson GCM Awards that I attended on November 9, 2016, the majority of winners (about 70%-80%) were women. Same thing for this GCM Job Fair. And won’t that be something to look forward to! Needless to say, our industry is in very very good hands.

Finally, a callout to those students, instructors and others who organized this exceptionally well-run event. From all of us at Graphic Arts Magazine…..another job well done! (I mean, with all errrr…..objectivity, what else would I expect from my Alma Mater?) See you next year!

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.