Mentoring and being Mentored in AV
Mentorship plays an important part in almost any industry, but it’s especially useful and increasingly prevalent for women in audiovisual (AV). More professionals in AV have already signed up for specific mentorship programs in 2023 than in previous years — and for good reasons.
The impacts and power of mentorship in AV play an important role in this changing industry. However, with increased interest, the number of available slots in mentorship programs is dwindling. In their recent Women in AV podcast, Erica Carroll and Jennifer Goodyer spoke with Jennifer Davis of the CMO Syndicate, Rita Leitensdorfer of Communitronics, and Sherri Beck of AVI-SPL about the positive impacts of AV mentorship.
Why Mentorship Is Important for Women in AV
Mentorship is still relatively new to the audiovisual industry, yet it is growing fast. Mentorship, training, and knowledge sharing are important to all individuals in AV, whether they’re new or have years of experience. AV mentorship is especially useful for women, who are significantly unrepresented in the AV industry, even compared to other STEM industries. With the right mentors, anyone can grow their career, experience, and network and maybe even grow into a mentor themselves.
According to specific program statistics, 38% of professionals who went through mentorship programs in 2021 experienced job advancement. While going through a mentorship program doesn’t guarantee a promotion, it can improve one’s likelihood of being considered for higher positions due to an increase in skill. With skills gaps negatively impacting tech industries, expanding training and mentorship experience is ideal both for professional growth and job security.
Experience and Confidence
Walking into a new position, venue, or field of AV that you don’t have much experience in can be intimidating. From the anxiety of making a mistake to the nerves caused by people staring, taking on a new situation alone and without guidance can be an overwhelming challenge and can lead to mistakes. Having a mentor or colleague walk through the steps before or during a new situation can seriously improve the work quality and decrease stress.
Network With Professionals
Mentorship gives professionals the opportunity to socialize and network with others in the AV industry. Learning about the expertise and perspective of others, regardless of their age and experience, can better anyone as a professional. Mentorship is especially efficient when individuals reach out to mentors they may not otherwise connect with, such as a younger professional who knows the most about a new AV advancement or an experienced AV veteran who’s seen and heard more in the industry than almost anyone else.
Most importantly, mentorship gives other AV professionals a chance to get to know each other. “It matters who knows you,” shared Davis in the Women in AV podcast. “You’ll never be sought out as a mentor or a mentee unless people know what you’re about [and] what expertise is in your head.”
Improve the Organization
Mentorship also gives professionals an “excuse” to better connect with and learn from colleagues and mentors in their organizations. For example, if a project on someone’s docket requires AV skills they know a colleague is experienced in, asking for mentorship on the specific project can expand their knowledge and ensure the problem is solved correctly. This teamwork-mentorship approach can better them as a professional and improve the organization by increasing communication and spreading knowledge.
Seeking Out Mentorship in Your AV Career
According to advice given to the CMO Syndicate’s Jennifer Davis, the best way to seek out mentorship is with a project. Having an obtainable goal or problem that you may not have all the answers for gives you the opportunity to pick the brains of colleagues and mentors. It can also help you discover where you may need additional skills so you can seek training and mentorship outside of your organization.
Not all mentors have to be in specific “trainer” roles but could instead be people already in your professional network who have both the answers you’re looking for and the willingness to help you grow. In many situations, simply “making a splash” will lead people to reach out to you and try to help you advance professionally.
Carroll and Goodyer’s Women in AV podcast episode “Finding Mentors Within AV” goes even more in-depth on how to seek out mentorship in your AV career and why it’s so important. Guests Davis, Leitensdorfer, and Beck all share their perspectives, including the ‘underdog stories’ of AV professionals like themselves who’ve sought out mentorship and seen its benefits. Tune into the podcast to hear advice from some of the biggest women in the audiovisual industry.