Did you hear the one about the history major who joined AmeriCorps after college and then went to work in the plastics industry?
Doesn’t sound like much of a joke set up. Does it? And that’s okay, because there’s no joke to be told. That’s essentially the story of Jake Martin, an industry engagement manager for the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). He helps to facilitate the growth and development of member companies through meetings and events that provide opportunities for networking, learning, and progress.
According to Jake, he arrived in the plastics industry by accident. “I went to undergrad to study history, but never really developed a plan for after college, so I took some time as an AmeriCorps Service Member after graduating,” he said. “After my service term ended it still took me months to find what I felt like was the right opportunity.”
Jake was looking for a job that combined his love of education and learning with work that has a positive impact on the world, when he found himself interviewing at PLASTICS.
“I never expected to find myself working to highlight the great things the plastics industry provides,” Jake said, “but after interviewing with my now-coworkers, I immediately felt the energy within our organization and knew this was a place where positive change is being made.”
Discovering a community
Jake soon found out that the energy he felt extended far beyond PLASTICS’ D.C. headquarters. “My favorite part about working in the plastics industry is the people,” he said. “There are so many friendly faces in our industry and so many people that love what they do. And people don’t just care about pushing the industry to improve, but about helping the people around them, as well.”
Among those people, Jake quickly discovered some who are proving instrumental in guiding him as he settles into the industry. “There have been so many helpful people that have enabled me to hit the ground running,” he said. “From people inside the organization like Katie Koehling and Ashley Hood-Morley, to members like Jon Ratzlaff and Greg Meyer, everyone has been welcoming and supportive.”
Another great discovery Jake made at PLASTICS is FLiP (Future Leaders in Plastics), our initiative for industry professionals under the age of 40. “I’ve been a part of FLiP since my first day with PLASTICS,” he said. “It’s been a great resource for me to meet people within the industry and make personal connections that have made my work more rewarding.”
FLiP offers many opportunities for professional development and networking, and Jake has been taking full advantage of them. “FLiP has allowed me the opportunity to learn and grow at a rate I don’t feel would have been possible without it,” he said. “Contributing to FLiP is one of the best parts of my role with PLASTICS and I am so excited for everything that lies ahead with our group.”
Jake is also excited about what lies ahead for the industry and encourages others of his generation to consider careers in plastics. “This industry is at the forefront of innovation. If you want to create a better future for the next generation, you can make an impact here,” he said. “If you have a passion for building better technology, you can do that with plastic. If you have a desire to make the environment safer and cleaner, you can do that in this industry.”
Pointing out that the plastics industry is investing billions of dollars into recycling solutions and the effort to eliminate plastic waste, Jake added, “Don’t stand outside the arena and yell about what needs to change; step inside and be a part of the drive towards a better future. I am proud to be a part of the work this industry is doing every day, and anyone who wants to make a difference can do so with us.”
We always ask people what plastic product they couldn’t do without. What’s that for Jake? “It’s my PlayStation®,” he said. “I use gaming to stay in touch and spend time with my friends since moving to Washington DC. I miss my friends enough as it is, I can’t imagine how much more I would without our online gaming sessions. And I know there are plastics parts in my PlayStation!”
PLASTICS and the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee are devoted to supporting and encouraging the next generation of plastics leaders who will play a crucial role in the innovation, technology and future of the plastics industry. FLiP’s mission is to provide young professionals under the age of 40 the exposure, education and resources they need to build lifelong careers in plastics. Want to join? Want to get your employees involved? Email: [email protected]