Great Education Plus Great Industry Experience is Simply the Best!

By: Logan H. Shoaf
Appalachian State University, Senior
Salem One, Intern

“The best feeling in the world is finally knowing you took a step in the right direction. A step towards the future where everything that you never thought was possible, is possible.” -Unknown

In early May, I began my first summer internship with Salem One, Inc. in Winston Salem, NC. As part of the Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology (GAIT) program at Appalachian State University, I am required to secure and complete two industry related internships. I chose Salem One for many reasons; perhaps the most important was that I knew I would be exposed to a wide variety of production capabilities. Salem One is more than a printer; they also specialize in retail packaging, direct mail and marketing, and flexographic label production. I wanted to gain “real world” knowledge about the industry from a company that could offer me diversity. I also wanted to experience first-hand the daily processes that took place in creating work for small local brands all the way up to major international brands. My goal for the summer was to connect the gap in my thinking between the confined limits of a classroom and the reality of working for a large multi-channel producer! I can honestly say that I learned more than I ever thought possible.

The very first assignment I was given was to design a Salem One branded packaging piece for sales and marketing that I would initiate, create, and follow through production to completion. This meant that I had to engage with multiple team members, in every segment of Salem. This task forced me to follow the “work-flow process” and collaborate with employees in almost every area of production. I began with an original design of my own and then worked with prepress to make the design producible. This was an eye-opening experience! I was exposed to the Kongsberg XE CAD table, which features the latest CAD and exact cut technology. It’s an awesome piece of equipment which allowed us to produce a dimensional print prototype of my project for review. This prototype showed me real evidence that some of my original ideas would not work well on the production-side of things. This was a huge benefit because actually seeing the tangible CAD sample allowed me to determine what alterations I needed to make in my design. Overall, I was most pleased with the progress I saw in myself throughout the design process; not only did I expand my skills, I got the chance to solve problems and turn my college-level design into a viable tool that will have real value in our industry.

Once all design elements were in place, I partnered with Project Management and selected the best paper stock for the project (which we named The Salem One Premium Package). We created a job ticket that included a schedule for production. I worked with Marketing and Press Supervisors to choose appropriate branded images, text, color, and specialty inks and coatings. Once these features were selected an Oris proof was produced for review and approval from company leaders, sales, marketing, and project management. After all was approved, the prepress team created plates and blankets for production. I was very excited at this stage because this meant that it was almost time to go to press!

On Friday, August 21st the project design concept that I began was ready to be printed. I came in that morning to sign-off on initial print pulls along with the rest of the team. Due to the complexity of the coatings and the specialty inks required to complete the unique look of the outer box, it was to print on Salem One’s newest press, the Komori six-color Lithrone GL40 with hybrid UV capability. This piece of equipment is cutting-edge and was amazing to watch in action. It was so much fun see how my design was coming to life. When all of the sheets were finally printed and stacked to be taken to the die cutter, I felt such a sense of pride because this concept had turned into a tangible reality.

The day after my project was produced, classes had already started back at Appalachian and my internship had come to an end. It was time for me to focus on my senior year. However, I head back to school with more insight on the type of career path I want pursue. Reflecting back on my internship, I can truly say that my time at Salem One was an utmost rewarding experience. I am most appreciative to all of those who spent time sharing their knowledge as well as providing constructive criticism that ultimately led to my success.

Thanks to everyone at Salem One, you are all Simply the Best!