New Article in AV Technology Magazine (Jan. 2012 Edition)
You’re Hired! How to create a compelling (and relevant) AV Career Portfolio by Christopher Neto
As a technology manager you are faced many with challenges on a daily basis. Your day revolves around support, maintenance and scheduling just to name a few. A casualty of the daily workload is your up keep of your technical knowledge. Technology changes quickly but for a technology manager your technology is based around a depreciation schedule set by your procurement department. Unless there is a change in your company leadership chances are that the cutting edge equipment you installed 5 years ago will remain “cutting edge” until your company tell you so. Terms like “Good Enough” and “If ain’t broke…” become very popular when AV budgets are discussed. Slowly your ambitions to work on cutting edge audiovisual systems begin to fade. The harmful side effects of a long depreciation schedule will be your enthusiasm, knowledge and skill set.
A few years back while working onsite as a technology support person I was in a situation where I loved my job but I wanted to advance. The challenge was how to move ahead at a non AV Company that did not have an “AV Path” to follow. To make matters worse chances are your team maybe lumped into facilities & dinning or part of a large IT department that does not respect what you do as anything more than pushing AV Carts. If you’re an outsourced AV support technician from an AV company then you may be in luck. If not then “Welcome to the AV squad!”
Step into my time machine…
Back in the 90’s I was a typical High School Student. Like other schools we watched films in various classes. AV Equipment was delivered to each classroom by the AV Squad. They pushed around the squeaky wheeled carts with TVs and film projectors up and down the halls. Little did I know that years later I would be a fellow AV Guy writing about the Squad and appreciating their determination to deliver technology to the end-user. I admit that in high school I did not have any interest in AV mainly because I was an Art guy and looked to further pursue Art in college. Once I made my intentions known to my Art Teacher she began to assist me in compiling an Art Portfolio. She explained that my grades and SATs were two-thirds of my college application. As a prospective Art Student I would need to showcase my artwork to college professors by creating an Art portfolio. Ironically finding my old Art portfolio inspired me to recreate it as a tool to showcase my work today in Audiovisual.
Like most people, I have a traditional resume that I print on nice heavy weight cotton paper with the matching envelopes to stand out from the crowd. Fact is everyone has traditional resumes and a lot of people shop at the local Office Superstore where they too can purchase the nice cotton paper and its matching gear. I began to think back to my High School days and the idea of creating a Portfolio to show my work & accomplishments began to make sense. The portfolio would also help separate me from the crowd and give me documentation to back up my efforts.
Over the next few weeks I began assembling my paperwork and samples. I emailed business contacts, clients, coworkers, college professors and former employers and asked them for reference letters. These letters where to be used as the supporting cast to my work. I scanned through all my emails and grouped all the Thank You emails and awards that I had received. While working on my paperwork I realized that my AV training was not where I wanted it to be.
As I mentioned earlier not working for an AV company had its disadvantages but my company did support the Team’s request to be a part of Infocomm. Through our membership I was able to take online training. As a CTS holder I need to renew my license so training needed to be incorporated into my schedule. I began to enroll in AV courses that were offered by Infocomm and equipment manufacturers. While searching for AV classes online I would occasionally come across online seminars and webcasts which I began to participate during my lunch hour or after work. These online seminars served as a way for me to keep current on trends in the AV industry. What I initially thought was going to be a simple collection of paperwork turned into a weekly routine. This routine still takes place today and I credit it to a lesson learned in Art Class.
Creating an AV portfolio has been a great tool in interviews and year-end reviews. Your updates will help you build a case as to why you should be considered for promotion by providing documented proof of your accomplishments. A lot of other factors come into play when you’re looking to move up but having documented accomplishments is major plus on your side. Your Portfolio will help remind to keep your training, certifications and references current, but most of all it will keep you focused on the goal you set out to accomplish. It’s your career and your drive will fuel how far you want to take it. Please do not sit back and wait for something to happen. Seek out opportunities to better yourself through training and hard work. It may not happen overnight but it will help you help establish credibility, distinguish you from the masses and puts an exclamation point your Resume’s objective statement.
Here is the Checklist to help you organize your AV Career Portfolio
- Start by organizing your documents. I purchased a binder at an art supply shop that photographers use to show their 8×10 pictures.
- Created an objective or mission statement specific to your goal separate from your resume.
- Update your traditional resume with solid descriptions of your responsibilities and achievements.
- Expand your resume by adding new sections to your resume
- - Associations: Infocomm, NSCA, CEA, PMI etc.
- Certifications: Manufactures, Association, Continuing education etc.
- AV Training, Online Classes & Seminars
- Relevant Coursework such as IT training & College Classes.
- Create a Skills section
- AV Skills – For example soldering, ability to wire racks or worked on specialized systems
- Languages – List your languages and your fluency
- Computer skills. – List out PC programs or specialized training that you may have.
- Scan your original certificates and Diplomas and add them to your Portfolio
- This is a key part of your portfolio and will give the interviewer something that they would normally have to hunt down themselves
- Save All Thank you emails you receive and add them.
- Ask your coworkers, customers and past employers for reference letters that emphasize your strong points such as tech knowledge, organizational skills, Multi-tasking, etc.
- Work Samples
- Include pictures of your work. Visuals are a huge part of building a portfolio and the big differentiator from a resume.
- Document any published work or interviews and include copies of the articles.
- Create a list of Projects and your involvement in the projects.
- Adding a Volunteer section will help show your involvement in the community along with additional leadership skills.
- Metrics – Companies love numbers & value add.
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