Jose Martinez is headed for his junior year at Columbia Heights Education Campus in the Washington, D.C. area but the EnventU student already has his mind on a career in AV integration.
Martinez, 16, proudly wore a flashing CTS pin on his shirt during his trip to InfoComm 2017 with two of his classmates—Karri Smith, 15, and Keiri Sanchez, 16—through a new partnership with EnventU, a D.C.-based organization focused on work-based learning experiences, hands-on education, career guidance, and mentorship.
“We’re the future,” says Martinez, who’s most interested in cybersecurity. “We need to learn more. This was all completely new to me, but I found it really interesting.”
To be eligible for the trip to Orlando, students had to complete a 10-hour “quick-fire” series on AV in which they interact with a virtual curriculum and complete a 400-word essay that talks about why they’re interested in an AV career. Only Martinez, Sanchez and Smith did it this year, says founder and CEO Latoya Lewis.
“A lot of companies out there haven’t invested in workforce development,” she says. “Now they’re starting to think about who’s going to do what they’re doing when they leave their companies. This program has been so well-received because there’s such a need for it.”
EnventU offers classes for Washington, D.C.-area students in event production, catering, décor, AV, floral design, lighting production, graphic design and stationery. It’s at three high schools now, says Lewis, with plans to expand to two others in the next couple of years before possibly going to other cities.
In addition to walking around the trade show floor at InfoComm 2017, the students sat in on several classes during their stay. Although many of the terms and discussions were a bit above their heads, it was a nice appetizer to a potential future career, they say.
“I didn’t know what AV was” when she came to InfoComm, says Sanchez. “But now that I’ve done it and seen it, I know what I was doing was AV. I know we’re not going to get it all on the first day.”
Among the highlights for Sanchez during her InfoComm 2017 experience was a back stage tour at Walt Disney World.
“It’s not just one person who does it,” she says. “Everyone figures it out together.”
Smith has her sights set on a career in event planning and “AV’s a big part of that,” she says.
“You’re talking about how to reach people,” says Sanchez.
Sanchez calls her InfoComm experience “a whole other level” than what she’d learned at school about AV. Even Lewis was impressed with what she saw at the record-setting show, featuring 950 exhibitors, almost 550,000 square feet of exhibition space and more than 44,000 attendees.
“It’s a lot to take in, but it’s awesome,” she says, noting EnventU partnered with InfoComm officials after one of them saw a blog about the program.