This article is part one of a new series on how we are helping shape next-gen perspectives on paper, the environment and the forest products industry.
The oldest members of Generation Z (Gen Z) are graduating from college and entering the workforce. They’re about to put two decades of digital experiences, environmental advocacy and social justice awareness behind their growing spending power.
How well has the pulp and paper industry shaped their next-gen perspectives on the role paper plays in their lives?
Quite well, according to research on Gen Z purchasing behaviors and personal preferences that show trends toward more sustainable packaging, print vs. digital media and recycling. Although they spend hours each day on social media and digital platforms, they prefer printed magazines, books and educational materials. And when it comes to the environment, their next-gen perspectives are leading them to choose employment with companies that focus on sustainability.
Much credit can be given to advocacy programs such as Domtar’s PaperBecause campaign and the Paper and Packaging Board’s How Life Unfolds campaign, both of which have gone a long way toward educating young people and shaping next-gen perspectives on the sustainability of paper and forest products. And now, How Life Unfolds’ current campaign is encouraging consumers to become Papertarians by ditching single-use plastics and choosing a paper-based lifestyle.
Another way we’re helping shape next-gen perspectives is by offering an inside look at the industry through internships. We spoke with several of this summer’s Fort Mill, South Carolina–based interns about how working at Domtar, part of the Paper Excellence group of companies, is transforming their opinions on the pulp and paper industry. Here are some of their responses.
Jada Dixon, Human Resources Intern
Jada Dixon is senior studying human resources at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her internship at Domtar has given her new perspective on both her field of study and how paper is made.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing all the collaboration within the HR department at Domtar,” she says. “It’s a real team, and I’ve been able to work with a lot of different people on the various tasks within the department.
“A highlight so far has been our tour of the Marlboro Mill and the Tatum Converting Center. It was so interesting to see how wood chips can be turned into a thin sheet of copy paper. It’s an extensive process and it made me realize how important it is to recycle paper.
“I’ve also enjoyed hearing from long-time employees about how they’ve had many opportunities for growth here at Domtar. That means there is a lot of opportunity for my generation to get their feet on the ground and build a career at Domtar and in manufacturing.”
Connor Uselton, Procurement Intern
Connor Uselton, a senior at Auburn University, is wrapping up his degree in supply chain management. Working as a procurement intern at Domtar this summer has given him a first-hand look at everything that goes into the pulp and paper-making process.
“Before I came to Domtar, I knew probably as much as anyone on the street would know about paper,” he says. “But in these first few weeks, I’ve learned more than I ever expected to about the paper-making process, pulp and linerboard. It’s shocked me just how much goes into it. It takes hundreds of processes and products to go from a tree in the forest to the paper that you buy in the store.
“I asked about Domtar’s environmental initiatives during my interview, and I was impressed by how they are taking measures to counteract the environmental aspects of making paper. It’s important for me to make sure we’re all doing our part to reduce carbon emissions and focus on other sustainability efforts. Visiting the Marlboro Mill showed me how Domtar is reusing everything they can from their manufacturing process to power their plants, for example, or returning clean water to the source. I have a newfound appreciation for the paper products I use every day.”
Alex Johnson, Inside Sales Intern
Alex Johnson didn’t set out to complete a sales internship. He’s a senior studying business administration with a focus on entrepreneurship and business consulting at West Virginia University. But internships in those focus areas are hard to come by.
“I ended up choosing sales because when I thought about it, everyone in every part of the business should be able to generate revenue and help keep the business alive,” he says. “This internship has shown me that I really like being in sales and serving as a liaison between the company and the customer. It’s the perfect dynamic of having independence while also being part of a team, and the work I’m doing has meaning and value to the company.
“It’s been eye-opening to learn about everything that goes into making paper. At my previous job, someone might order 20 packs of paper, but I had no idea how it ended up on the shelf. Now I’ve seen how paper is made, so when I go buy paper, I know where it came from, how it was made and how long it took to make it. That’s changed how I feel about paper.”
Shape Your Perspective
Look for part two of this series, where we’ll share more next-gen perspectives from this year’s summer intern cohort. And learn more about becoming a Papertarian by visiting the campaign’s website, where you can take the Papertarian pledge and learn more about leading a paper-based lifestyle.
If you’re interested in working with Domtar, visit Domtar.com/careers and search for open positions by location. If you’re a student, visit the Student Focus page to learn more about our internships and co-op positions.