BOONE, N.C. — Taylor Coggins ’12 attributes much of her career success to the guidance and help she has received from Appalachian State University alumni in her company.
Coggins, who earned a B.S. in Appalachian’s graphic arts and imaging technology (GAIT) program, is a project manager for Salem One, a printing, direct marketing, packaging and logistics company headquartered in Winston-Salem. The firm has hired several graduates from Appalachian’s GAIT program over the years.
In her job, Coggins works with clients to understand their needs, plans the workflow and efficiently manages jobs from start to finish. “I really love interacting with and helping people, so being in this position is pretty great for me,” Coggins said.
As a GAIT major, Coggins was required to participate in two internships prior to graduating from Appalachian. Her first internship was at a marketing company in Boone, where Coggins learned many things that benefit her today, she said.
For her second internship, Coggins was hired by Salem One as a flexographic press operator and worked with a specialized printing press that produces images on fabric, plastic bags, cartons and labels. Like several other alumni initially hired by the company as interns, Coggins continued in this job after graduating.
“I spent six years on the production floor before moving to project management last spring,” she said. While working in production provided invaluable experience for her move into project management, Coggins said it didn’t provide her as much “facetime with people” as she would have liked.
The opportunity for interaction was one of the considerations that led Coggins to choose Appalachian for her education. “I only applied to two colleges,” she said. “It was clear that I belonged at Appalachian — the campus, its atmosphere and the smaller class sizes were going to be beneficial to my success in the long run.”
“GAIT was a relatively small program on campus, which meant the professors were able to spend more one-on-one time with students,” Coggins continued. “That was important to me, because I always felt comfortable asking questions or meeting with professors if I was having trouble grasping a certain lesson.”
Coggins still keeps in touch with one of her former instructors, Michelle Surerus, who has since left Appalachian. “Her passion and dedication to the print industry had a big impact on my wanting to work in the printing field,” Coggins said.
“It is a fairly male-dominated field, so seeing a female thrive and enjoy her experiences in the print world was encouraging. Plus, she went above and beyond to care about her students’ overall well-being.”
Appalachian’s GAIT program prepares students for careers in both office and production settings, Coggins said. “The program also does an excellent job of setting up students for success with career days with companies actively hiring interns or employees. I wouldn’t have known about Salem One had it not been for GAIT’s Career Connections Event.”
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About the Department of Art
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Art at Appalachian State University prepares students to explore art, identity, expression and creative problem-solving while challenging them to go beyond their previous limits by discovering new connections to culture. The department offers degrees in art and visual culture, art education, graphic design, studio art, photography and graphic communications management, with minors in art history, studio art, photography and graphic communications management. Learn more at https://art.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.