CAREER DAY: WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A UNIVERSITY PRINTER

I run a small print shop for a small university. I'm proud of the work we do, and I'd like to share a little about it with you. I'd also love it if you made your own list about what you do every day!
  1. Challenging
    I solve problems all day long. Sometimes it's old equipment causing issues. Sometimes it's problems with digital color. Sometimes it's an issue of planning production schedules when everything needs to be done at the same time. We are problem-solvers.
  2. Rewarding
    We produce a lot of quality pieces that represent our university well to all kinds of audiences: prospective students, donors, students, alumni. There's no better feeling than when we finish a big project and get it out the door looking great. We are artists.
  3. Smelly
    The smell of ink on a press is one of my favorite smells. I love coming into the shop and knowing we've been printing offset immediately. We are the ones who smell it.
  4. Loud
    With all of the equipment running, it's not exactly a hum. More like a small roar. I love it, though, because when all the equipment is going it means we're being productive. We are the ones who hear it.
  5. Team-Oriented
    Our crew of four employees works well together. When there's a big project or an all-hands-on-deck situation in order to get something out the door as soon as possible, we'll all pitch in and work together. We are a team.
  6. Full of lingo
    I know about paperweights, saddle stitching, perfect binding, offset, and double panel folds vs roll folds. I regularly discuss clicks and originals and how many "up" a piece is, etc. We have a robust vocab.
  7. Frustrating
    The print shop is the last in a long line of people who are involved with producing a printed piece. Delays, or even just poor planning, means projects get dumped on us at the last minute all the time. We are freaking miracle workers.
  8. Interesting
    There are lots of new technologies out there in the world of digital printing and print production. Our shop doesn't really have the budget for this stuff, but it's fun to keep researching as I go along. We are constantly learning.
  9. Scary
    Print is an ever-shrinking medium, and while I still believe it has an important roll and won't disappear completely, the fact remains that departments are cutting back on printing to save money. This is scary because we provide valuable services for the university, but we need to maintain a certain volume to stay afloat. We are under near-constant threat of becoming obsolete.
  10. Math-Heavy
    Ya'll, I do so much math every day. Between providing quotes/billing and calculating how many cases of paper to order based on the quantity needed, the originals and how many up we can get, I Am. Always. Doing. Math. We are mathematicians.
  11. Education-Heavy
    Educating people from other departments about printing is a big part of my job. People don't know what paper weight is best for different jobs or how to submit files to get the best output or what kind of binding they need or how to properly utilize university branding, etc. I try to teach people so they can operate a little more independently in the future, but it is a constant battle. We are educators.
  12. Customer Service Oriented
    University departments don't have to use our on-campus print shop - they can go down the road to Staples or Office Depot and get the same product. We try to provide a level of service and familiarity, along with excellent pricing, so they don't feel the need to go down the road. We are at their service.