When audiovisual technician Mark Forman received a call from a recruiter recently, he briefly allowed himself to hope. The recruiter described what appeared to be the perfect job – a jack-of-all-trades position running a meeting facility. It sounded like the responsibilities would be in his sweet-spot – running the audio-visual and computer equipment that makes everything from PowerPoint presentations to video-conferencing easy to use and hassle-free for the participants. If the job also involved setting up the chairs, Forman would have been fine with that too. After two years out of work, he wouldn't quibble about the details.
Then, the recruiter called back. “The client is not interested in someone who is not already working,” he said. Devastating. It’s the kind of body-blow that happens all too often to the unemployed.
When Forman graduated from high school, he hadn't found himself yet, so he bounced around from job to job -- short-order vegetarian cook, graveyard landscaper, waiter. Through it all, music was his passion and a girlfriend got him a job at WXPN, playing music overnight. Eventually, he became the host for the radio station’s well-known “Sleepy Hollow” show.
The connections and knowledge he gained at the station led him into early jobs in event lighting and audio-visual technology, mostly “pushing slide projectors around hotels,” he said, although the first job was training a spotlight on Phillies players for a publicity event.
Sometimes Forman worked freelance, other times he worked as an employee. For a year, he worked at Vanguard, helping to set up audio-visual technology for the financial company’s in-house training facility, Vanguard University. His most recent job was an eight-year stint running the audio-visual facilities for a major pharmaceutical company. Besides that, he was the informal help-desk for the people in his building, able to solve most of their computer problems more quickly and simply than the company help desk.
He loved the work. Most of the people who needed to present at lectures and seminars were scientists. “Intelligent, educated and comfortable people were my clients and I liked them,” said Forman, who lives in Roxborough.
“I liked the instant gratification,” he said. “Someone has a problem. I show up in the room, push a few buttons and fix it. It was very satisfying.”
That job ended as the company began to cut costs in advance of a merger with another firm.
As adept as Forman is with the equipment, (he’s also done similar work for concerts and theater), he sees his main service as psychological.
“The biggest thing I did was make people comfortable,” he said. “It was important to people that their meetings go smoothly. Nervous presenters are presenting to their peers and their bosses. I would reassure them that everything was going to work OK and I wouldn’t be far away if it didn’t.
“I know how to make the big shots happy,” he said, talking about the chief executives who would use company facilities to address employees, investors, or industry groups.
“If they are going to have a technician, they want to have confidence in them,” he said. “You act like you know what you are doing. You tell them what they need to know and you don’t waste their time, because their time is valuable.”
Update: As of December, 2011, Forman is still looking for work.
- Mark Forman
- Hometown: Philadelphia.
- Profession: Audiovisual and technical coordinator
- Experience: Directed all multi-media projects. Computer support and help desk liaison for multi-media center. Webex videoconferencing support. Responsible for inventory and maintenance of equipment. Helped coordinate multi-media learning centers. Trained and supervised audiovisual staff.
- Education: High school graduate
- E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mark Forman's resume
- Mark Forman's LinkedIn profile
Read past profiles in the Looking for Work series. The series runs on Fridays.
Read my Jobbing blog for workplace news and views.
The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.
Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or email@example.com.