Get a Good Start in the Paperboard Packaging Industry

Go to college, get a degree and have a rewarding career! That is the typical plan for most high school seniors and though it’s a good plan to follow, as a student you quickly learn that it takes more than wishful thinking to get from point “a” to point “amazing career.”

The Paperboard Packaging Alliance (PPA) helps students along the way through the annual Student Design Challenge (SDC). Packaging, industrial and graphic design students have the opportunity to compete by creating innovative paperboard packaging designs and more importantly learn about the versatility of using a sustainable, renewable and recyclable resource. Additionally, the PPA rewards top performing students’ with scholarships and provides the Ideas & Innovations handbook as a paperboard design guide. But, after the competition is over and the scholarship money is spent, how can students take what they’ve learned and use it to navigate their way through the paperboard packaging industry?

PPA has had many conversations with packaging industry professionals and in summary here are their tips for getting a good start in our industry:

Network! Attending packaging industry events like PACK EXPO, are great settings to network with companies and stay current on the latest packaging industry innovations.

Experience! Applying for an internship or co-op in your Junior/Senior year is essential to getting on-the-job experience and can also get your foot in the door for future consideration.

Student Design Challenge! Having a tangible design to bring to an interview is an added bonus. Even if it’s not a winning SDC design, companies want to know that you are capable of designing a package from concept to execution and that you collaborate well on a team.

Mentor! Finding a seasoned package designer to mentor you can help you to learn from their experiences—both success and challenges.

Proactive! Being proactive and taking initiative! Companies want smart and innovative people on their team.

Putting these tips to use can lead you in the right direction! If you’ve already completed any of these we’d love to hear from you. Share your experience on our Facebook page or send us an email at

Happy Designing!

PPA Team