Facility Manager — October/November 2011
Twice As Nice
Second time at VenueConnect just as meaningful for Young Professional
I’M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO FALL INTO the “Young Professional” category in life. I’ve been out of college for a little over seven years but I haven’t been in the workforce quite long enough to be considered a seasoned vet. This can be a scary place to live. When in this category you still have so much to learn but you’re expected to already know so much. People look up to you but people also direct you. You don’t always know what to do at the same time that you’re teaching your peers how to do it.
If you stop to think about it, it’s a first-class ticket to career insanity. I had this first class ticket in hand a couple of years ago when given the opportunity to step into a new role of leadership as the manager for our booking and events/ front of house department. I was about to embark on what would turn out to be one of the most challenging but equally amazing growth opportunities I had faced during my time in the industry. While I wasn’t new to the performing arts industry, I was brand new to operational management. I could do half of my job in my sleep, but the other half was something I would need to learn… and fast! Along with my role came an entire team of people waiting for me to take the lead, waiting for me to learn a new role, waiting for me to at least do something that resembled a step in the right direction. It was an intimidating place to be in.
I trusted that management saw something in me that they believed in. However, not having had the chance to see for myself what I could do with this position, I wasn’t as confident as they were. There was not a day that went by where I didn’t find myself turning to a coworker to ask them for advice and opinions. My head was so full of questions that what should have been a simple task to complete became complex and complicated. I couldn’t continue my days like that without imploding. I needed answers to my questions and needed a chance to download what was in my head with people who would understand my situation. Most of all, I needed a group of peers to watch and learn from.
Enter VenueConnect 2010 in Houston. When I first arrived, the conference seemed like a sea of people who all knew what they were doing, where they were going, and most importantly, knew their jobs like the back of their hand. And there I was, not even sure where to go for registration on the first day. I jumped at the chance to attend the First Timers breakfast where I was able to sit with a group who would turn out to be great peers over the next year. It was somewhere between the scrambled eggs and mixed breakfast rolls served that morning that it dawned on me that I was not alone. The story of how I moved into my new position might be a unique one to my situation, but there were other people throughout this industry just like me.
These new friends were exactly where I was in their careers. They all had a good amount of experience in the field but were entering new roles of leadership and with that came the same hesitation I had been experiencing. We were all new managers, thirsty for knowledge, inspiration and the opportunity to one day become mentors and peers like the ones we were meeting for the first time at IAVM’s VenueConnect.
Throughout the conference, I attended sessions that I felt best fit some circumstances I would face at my venue. I learned a great deal about cross-generational communication in the office, creating a more sustainable operational plan for my venue and the new ADA regulations. However, what I valued most was the spark that was ignited in me during that week in Houston. It was a spark that has allowed me to plow through some tough situations at work. It was an energy that kept me going when all I wanted to do was give up and go home. It was the spark needed to lead, with confidence, not only my new department but an entire group of peers at my venue down a road towards our future – it’s a future that involves expanding into a new city, it’s a future with new theaters and venues, and it’s a future that isn’t as scary now that I have IAVM as a group to turn toward when I have a question, need some advice, or just need that spark reignited.
I recently attended my second VenueConnect conference in Phoenix. Being the worrier that I am, and since it had been a year since the previous conference, I arrived to the conference a bit shy and fully expecting to have to start over and make new friends. Thankfully, the water was nice and I jumped right in. I found that the inspirational people I had met the year before were all where I left them, teaching each other, learning from one another, and igniting the sparks in new members and reigniting the spark in me.