By Johnnie Sanchez
Tim Albright recently wrote about getting the most out of Millennials in the office. Professionally, I’ve had the most experience with the music industry and PR. Though my company is a control software firm, we work closely with AV dealers. I remember that two summers ago, I had to be told what “AV” stood for. As a 20-something woman who’s been in the game for such a short amount of time, I have more questions than ever. I reached out to a group of AV professionals just on their way and more seasoned, men and women, to see what they had to say about careers and professional development in the AV industry.
- When do you know it’s time to resign?
I have been fortunate enough to have only had to make that decision once in my 15 year career within this industry. My reasoning was that I did not feel challenged and my prospective growth within the organization was not apparent or even present. I knew I had more to give to not just a company but the industry. —Jeremy Caldera of ZDI (@jeremy_caldera)
If you feel like you are stuck in a dead end with no room for advancement. That is for sure a time to go. —Hailey Klein of PSNI (@PSNI_Hailey)
Are you talking about when it’s time for us ‘old dogs’ to step aside and hand over the reins to others? The answer to that is when we ‘old dogs’ can no longer easily adapt to new technologies, new ways of doing business and new types of customers. And yes, there are lots of ‘old dogs’ working for both integrators and manufacturers who have, over time, lost their passion and energy for the industry and probably should think about moving over or moving on. The problem, though, is that it’s easier and less expensive for companies to keep employing sub-par dogs than it is to train new employees.
If you’re talking about when is the time for a Millennial to start moving from one job to the next my advice to my sons has been “Don’t take a lateral move to another company or industry for less than a 15% pay increase…unless your immediate boss is an idiot and is standing in your way of advancement/promotion/additional responsibilities/additional income.”
Much of the value of an individual in any position/industry/company is not in the day to day work they do but in the relationships they’ve built internally and externally that ‘get things done’. And in understanding the dynamics (or politics) of how their organization actually works. Starting over somewhere else is always exciting, but you start with zero ‘personal capital’. —Brock McGinnis of Westbury National (@brockmcginnis)
I believe it’s time to resign when you’re no longer learning – when you’ve reached the ceiling. Becoming comfortable/complacent is dangerous and frankly, it’s unfair to you and your employer. —Kelly Perkins of AVI (@AVI_Kelly)
- What have you learned from your mistakes in AV?
I have learned EVERYTHING from the mistakes I’ve made. No, seriously, I mean it. I was as entry-level as it came when I started in the industry and I’m still learning every day. —Hailey Klein
The most important lesson was twofold: First, be prepared to make mistakes—without risk you really can’t accomplish anything worthwhile. Second, own your mistakes. Anyone worth their salt will forgive you your mistakes if you made them for good reasons and accepted responsibility for them.—Dave Labuskes, CTS, RCDD Executive Director and CEO of InfoComm International (@DavidLabuskes)
I’ve learned that not everyone will be as passionate as me. And while I wish everyone shared my passion for perfection and learning, I have to learn to deal with it. To some people, their job is just a job. To others, it is a career. To me, it is a career that I am passionate about. I’ve learned to let go and not worry about others. —Christa Bender of Pivot Communications, (@AVChrista)
Most of my mistakes have fallen into two categories: Not paying enough attention to customer’s needs, wants and circumstances….not paying enough attention to the needs, wants and circumstances of employees. Every time I make the same mistakes I learn from them. —Brock McGinnis
To be patient. I tend to get upset when change doesn’t happen quickly enough and I need to realize there are a lot of factors involved outside of my control. —Kelly Perkins
No one is perfect and if you think you are, that is your biggest mistake. Mistakes…are often needed to make you realize that you don’t know what you don’t know. —Jeremy Caldera
- What do you wish you had known about AV when you entered it?
It’s a remarkably small industry vis-a-vis people, and it has a magic that I believe comes from the intersection of art and science. —Dave Labuskes
I had no idea how much I would love this industry. The creativity, cool tech and fun people make this a real home for me. How many other industries are accepted for launching not-so-perfect products that customers are willing to beta test in real life? —Coleen Leith Sterns of Marketing Matters (@ColeenL)
In a nutshell, having come from a college that taught audio and acoustics I wish I had learned more about the video and control system of the industry. The fundamentals apply across the board but that base knowledge was missing coming in as a sales engineer and system designer at the age of 22. —Jeremy Caldera
- How is AV different than any other industry you’ve worked in?
The coolest part of my job is that the technology is constantly changing…AV will never, ever be boring. —Brock McGinnis
The AV industry has a very strong sense of community. We work with a lot of start-ups and I always try to instill the importance of being a member of this community. It’s a relationship business rather than simply transactional one. That’s what makes it especially charming for me. —Coleen Leith Sterns
The friends you make seem like they will be friends for life. We see each other once a year and it’s like a family reunion. —Hailey Klein
- When looking for a new position, how do you know if you’re a good culture fit?
I like to look at their social outlets – if they have any. I’m in marketing and a bit of a goofball, so for me, I look to see if they have a bit of fun with their marketing. —Hailey Klein
Ask a ton of questions, but first you have to understand the definition of “a good culture fit.” In my early career, all I wanted was the opportunity to be rewarded for working hard and recognized as the guy who was in first, out last, and took everything seriously. At some point in my career, that became less important than having the freedom to invest in people and in an environment that could encourage their growth. Now I look for a culture that knows laughter and hard work, but in a team environment. —Dave Labuskes
People talk about work/life balance, but I love my job. It’s not a “this” or “that” – my career is part part of my life. Culture is number 1. —Kelly Perkins
I ask this same question when interviewing potential employees. How will they be a good cultural fit? I don’t know if there is an answer to that. It’s not until you are engulfed into an organization and past the honeymoon phase that anyone will ever begin to see if they are a good fit. —Jeremy Caldera
Tune in 4/20/2016 for Millenial Series Part 2.
Johnnie Sanchez graduated from Agnes Scott College with a Creative Writing & Literature degree. Her background as a music writer with a love for film got her started writing for Adelyte, which introduced her to the custom industry. She believes that a first-class Friday night consists of watching movies in Lumiere with a glass of Jack and a bucket of buttered popcorn—and that the happiest Saturdays always include record shopping, live concerts, and cowboy boots. Johnnie loves that PR is about connection, and is infatuated with the romance of the written letter. She calls the city of Atlanta home, but can usually be found on Twitter.