STEM JOBS

EARLY FALL 2017

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STEMJOBS.COM // EARLY FALL 2017 15 "NOT EVERY PROBLEM YOU RUN INTO HAS AN OBVIOUS SOLUTION YOU CAN LOOK UP IN AN EQUIPMENT MANUAL." BUILDING BROADCASTING SKILLS During her teenage years, Lara Jessen took a strong interest in production while participating in her high school's technical theater program and the audio team at her church. Working with lighting and audio systems, she was fascinated with finding solutions for equipment that was faulty or extremely old. "We were challenged, because we had a small budget and old equipment, and there were no professionals around to help resolve problems. Most people would get frustrated with the issues or just blame it on the equipment, but I always wanted to find a way to make things work better. I would look up technical manuals, read articles, and experiment with the equipment that I was unfamiliar with." Though Jessen feels the education from her NEP Engineer Apprentice Program was extremely important to prepare for her future role, this early interest in the field proved her passion. The effort she showed during school and at church was noticed by others, making a strong impression that people remembered, positively impacting her future career path. "When I graduated with my bachelor's degree, someone from my church referred me to a job at Azusa Pacific University working on live events and internet broadcasting. It was there that I discovered the areas of video and broadcasting, and realized I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to troubleshoot and solve problems with all types of equipment." BECOMING A BROADCAST PROFESSIONAL Many education options are available for students interested in this field. As Jessen notes, two- and four-year programs exist in broadcasting, film, and journalism. In addition to these majors, students can also choose to study electronics, computer networking, or even music recording technology—as Jessen did. Though her first career choice was recording engineering, she quickly found that her coursework in music recording technology was useful for her position as a mobile unit engineer on a daytime talk show! "My main responsibilities on the show include maintaining, troubleshooting, and configuring audio and video equipment. If something isn't working properly, it is my job to figure out specifically where the problem is located in the system and either fix the problem, or find a way to work around it until a piece of equipment can be repaired. I also configure, or set up, certain pieces of equipment to do what people need them to do to perform their jobs efficiently." While she loves what she does, Jessen's role requires responsibility for the big aspects of broadcasting. When problems arise, she and her team work against the clock to ensure everything is fixed so her coworkers can continue doing their jobs to finish a project. "The other engineers who I have worked with are very passionate about what they do, and everyone contributes with different types of expertise…I also really love the investigative aspects of the job. Not every problem you run into has an obvious solution you can look up in an equipment manual. Sometimes it's more like finding clues by using what you do know in order to solve a puzzle." It is completing this growing puzzle within broadcasting that Jessen sees as the future of the industry. To complete the broadcasting puzzle, she says it's necessary to have skilled camera operators, video recording and playback operators, graphics technicians, audio technicians, broadcast system design engineers, and equipment installation technicians. In addition to these roles, craftspeople, such as carpenters, electricians, mechanical engineers, and metalworkers are needed to install lighting, power, furniture, and HVAC equipment. Broadcasting also needs workers to maintain and update television trucks. With so many career options available in the industry, Jessen says students should start working on projects now and looking for local groups that can teach broadcasting basics. "My advice would be to take advantage of any opportunities that you can to get hands-on experience in this area. If your high school provides classes in video production, or has a school news broadcast, then get involved by volunteering and taking classes in electronics or computer networking at your high school or your local community college."

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