“What advice would you give to a college student currently studying a field related to AV integration?”
I would provide the same advice I offered to my son when he was in college. I told him that the AV Integration (especially digital signage) world was fast-paced, ever-changing and competitive. I would still echo the same to any college-age person considering AV as a possible path forward. I would advise this person take an internship for three months and attend a large AV-oriented trade show like Digital Signage Expo or InfoComm. 20 years ago, the AV industry was almost 100 percent small- to medium-sized family owned businesses. Today, there are certainly some of those companies still in play, but many of them have been sold to large AV rollup companies, and there have been several large footprint companies that have emerged. The net result, today’s larger AV companies are run more like traditional public companies, with a focus on business efficiencies and bottom-line profit. Yes, there is good money in the AV business, and to those that embrace digital signage and other growing verticals that require value-add skills, there is a lot of money to be made.
The industry offers a variety of disciplines from sales to engineering to tech services (installation and service). To be successful going forward in the AV business, a person must have IT skills in addition to AV skills. Everything is now network driven. I would also encourage a person to gain a second language like Spanish. This will make the individual of more value to the AV company because today’s AV companies project themselves into AV projects all around the world, and not knowing the native language of your customer is a real challenge in any business. My son, Robert White, followed this path and has had a very successful career within the AV industry. He currently serves as one of the lead engineers for UnifiedAV.
Now let’s talk about why AV should be considered as a career path. AV is a profession where you can really make an impact on people’s everyday lives. Technology is absolutely great, but if we don’t provide workspace, education space or worship space where people can see and more importantly hear, we have failed. Just think of the last time you were in a meeting or any type and you could not hear or struggled to hear. The result is that you and everyone left that meeting very disappointed, and the time was wasted. You can buy lots of things, but you cannot buy time, and it is the same for everyone. So if you want to embrace a profession that really can impact lives, then the AV industry is a great choice, and as a bonus, you will meet and work with some of the greatest people around. You can have fun and make a good living in the AV industry and if you are very lucky, you get to work with other member of your family that makes the same choice as you do.