My dad has been in the paper industry for nearly thirty years; I have been around for all but six of those. Over the years, my dad has brought home countless samples, endless rolls of wrapping paper and a number of cool paper innovations. As a result I grew familiar with the paper industry…or so I thought.
If you’d asked me what a paper company was like when I was little, I’d have told you that it was full of older men named Bob and Dan, some of whom were in charge of my father and some of whom worked for him and that everyone had been there forever. If you had asked me the same question directly before my internship, I would have described a mixture between The Office and the memory from my youth: fun and intimate, but unchanging.
I had never heard of anyone new going to work for a paper company, so when I was hired to be an intern for Domtar the summer following my junior year, I steeled myself for a summer of Bobs and Dons (as well as one V, my boss, who I’d met during the hiring process) but instead I found so much more.
The first thing I discovered when I arrived for work is that Domtar is a place bursting with potential, which didn’t fit my old vision of plain white paper with nothing new to offer. Prior to my internship, I had no idea about the vast amounts of products that paper, and by extension Domtar, was involved in, but once I began, my boss and co-workers quickly began to fill me in.
Paper itself is not new—on that end, I was right—but what I was wrong about is the amount of innovation within the industry. So, while the novelty may have worn off, consumers are still coming to make purchases for their jobs or for home use and as a result, Domtar is constantly finding ways to market and differentiate itself from its competitors.
Over the course of the summer, I was able to interact with a wealth of different people—from award-winning ad agencies to company executives and paper mill operators.
I quickly realized that this was a company that didn’t want me to grab coffee or make food runs—it wanted to pick my brain for ideas and teach me all about the industry and corporate life in return.
One thing I was told in my interview, which was echoed by nearly every employee I encountered that first week and since, is that Domtar is an incredible place to work. The Bobs and Dons, who are in reality Vanecias and Beckys, commit to and stay with Domtar because the company reciprocates the effort and attention you give it.
When my time was up in August and I got ready to return to school, I was left thinking that Domtar’s potential reflected the potential that I hoped was within myself as an impending college graduate.
When I returned this year, I found that while Domtar was working on new projects and interacting with new partners, its core had remained the same and it was capitalizing on that very same potential. Domtar brought me on as a post-graduate intern, joining a much larger class of interns, to continue to push the envelope and to provide new ideas, and I returned so that I could be pushed, because that is how you breed success.