One of the big obstacles contributing to the AV integration industry’s well-documented recruitment challenges is that college students tend not to be interested in a career in AV.
A big reason for that: They aren’t aware of AV or that careers in it exist, nor are their college administrators that help plan curriculum and prepare students to enter rewarding industries.
That may be a sweeping generalization but we decided to put it to the test.
Jennifer Landon is a career consultant at University of New Hampshire – Manchester. She is familiar with the AV integration industry because hers is among the universities that Scarborough, Maine-based integration firm Advance Technology has tapped to launch an internship program.
Landon was game for a little experiment. She emailed 17 students—14 computer information systems majors, two communications majors and one communication arts major—and asked them three questions:
1.) What is AV integration?
2.) Do you know what InfoComm is?
3.) Would you be interested in a career in which you use IT and engineering skills to design things like video walls or collaborative communication solutions for companies?
First consider that the term “AV integration” has some built-in context clues. Still, seven students answered along the lines of “no clue.” The other 10 took their best cracks at responding, some getting close and some touching upon aspects of AV integration:
“AV integration involves implementing audio/video services within a network.”
“I think AV integration has to do w/ working w/ audio visual tools.”
“Using video technology in order to improve business aspects.”
“Audio Visual Integration are essentially network systems that provide a targeted audience the view of specific ads placed by companies. These systems are typically placed in high traffic areas where folks are looking to advertise a variety of matters/ideas. For example, the Wildcat Cafe uses TV screens to advertise their food menu. On one of the screens you have a menu and on the other you may have the different sandwiches they have.”
“Audio visual integration.”
“AV integration occurs when a room’s lighting, furniture, and relevant technology fit well with one another. If someone has a small study room that requires a TV and USB hookups, one must think of where to manage the cables and the placement of the interface for easy access. The same applies for larger meeting rooms. Where should the conference phone(s) be placed so everyone has easy access? Where should the monitor(s)/TV(s) be placed so everyone has clear view for presentation?”
“Integrating audio visuals into the classroom.”
“Audio Visual integration is a custom conference room that can be used for something simple like slides to present to employees or can be used for worldwide video conferencing that can have people all over the world attend a meeting together.”
The InfoComm question was tougher. Fifteen respondents basically said “never heard of it.” Another is pretty accurate by describing InfoComm as “a company that organizes trade shows, events and training presentations.” The 17th gets points for effort:
InfoComm is blend, and natural expansion of, telecommunications that includes information processing, content handling functions, and every type of electronic communication on a common digital technology base, usually through Internet technology.
When it comes to whether or they’re attracted to a career in AV integration, having been told a little bit about it, they absolutely are. Eight said yes. Five said, more or less, maybe. Four said no.
Specifically, one of the “yes” respondents wrote, “Yes, I would be interested in almost any career involving IT.” Another adds, “That actually sounds pretty awesome.”
The challenge for the industry is getting more of these types of students to go from not knowing what AV integration is to realizing how “pretty awesome” a career in the industry can be.
From left: Bonnie Smith, computer information student at UNH-Manchester who participated in the survey; Kristina Johnson, Advance Technology’s customer satisfaction specialist; Jennifer Landon, career consultant for UNH Manchester.