Victoria BarelaRecent graduate Victoria Barela, CTS®, earned her CTS certification just two months after graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Live and Installed Sound. This go-getting programmer and audio enthusiast already has an internship with Illinois integrator Zdi under her belt and is currently getting her feet wet as a part-time Junior Programmer for Riordan Brothers, under the mentorship of programmer Hope Roth.

"I felt like more doors would open for me if I had the certification," says Barela, of her reason for jumping straight into getting her CTS. "I'm taken a little more seriously, even though I am straight out of college."

Barela has used the certification as both a way to connect with AV industry insiders and increase her knowledge of certain areas of AV that her college classes didn't cover in depth.

"The network side of AV was new to me, but through studying for the CTS, I was able to learn the basics of networking and the correct vocabulary to use," she says.

She began her quest to learn about the industry at InfoComm 2015, which she was encouraged to attend by Zdi AV Design Engineer Jeremy Caldera (also a course instructor at Columbia College), who was receiving the 2015 Young AV Professionals Award at the show. While there, she attended the inaugural Women of InfoComm Network (WIN) breakfast, where she heard Roth speak.

"I reached out to Hope after the show to ask her some questions about the industry and ask her to look over my resume, and she was kind enough to invite me to come on site with her at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, so we got to work together," says Barela, who is currently looking at getting Crestron-certified, with Roth's guidance.

Barela recently started blogging on rAVe, with an industry newcomer insight into the world of AV. She particularly enjoys being able to encourage other college students to learn about and possibly pursue careers in AV.

"I've had some great opportunities and met some very nice people who have helped me along the way," she says, "but when I first started college I had never heard of AV programming or the AV industry. I started out studying computer programming; it wasn’t until later that I discovered there could be a link between programming and audio. I am excited to pass on to current college students what I’ve learned and how there are valuable jobs in this industry and certifications that can allow them to pursue their passion."

Barela is planning to attend InfoComm 2016 and hopes to start studying for the CTS-I® certification before the year is out. But first, she says, she wants to find a full-time position in the industry as an AV programmer.



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