“When I grow up, I want to be…”
Meet Craig MacCormack, Editor-At-Large for Commercial Integrator.
We interviewed Craig to learn more about his career path and how he got to where he is today. Here’s what he shared:
What is your current position?
I am the Editor-at-large for Commercial Integrator.
What do you love about your current job?
I think it’s fun how the AV integration world changes seemingly every day, with cool new products introduced all the time, unbelievable projects completed all around the world and transactions and other breaking news that show the people in this industry aren’t satisfied with the status quo. The best part is I get to share all of those stories with readers – and often those stories lead to new information and other exciting things in the industry to cover later on.
What made you transition to the career path you have today?
There was no transition for me, other than from one industry to another. I started out after college in newspapers, going from a sports editor for four small New Hampshire weekly newspapers to a news-sports hybrid reporter for a couple of small towns in southeastern Massachusetts to a sports editor for five weekly papers in that same region to a beat reporter for a string of cities and towns in Massachusetts in an area known as the MetroWest.
I spent about eight years at the MetroWest Daily News before moving on to a trade publication company that focused on architecture and engineering before coming to CI in January 2011. I also have briefly written for a New England regional sports magazine and a family of local news websites.
What was the first job you had and what did you learn from it?
My first “job” of sorts in journalism was working on the student newspaper at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. I learned a lot about how much goes into putting the publication together, from writing to editing to photography to layout to getting it into people’s hands. When I was the editor starting at the end of my junior year, I usually had to drive the pages to the printer and then pick them up and put them in the boxes around campus. That was before the days of email. I also learned how much impact – good and bad – an article can have on people.
Did you meet anyone along the way that made an impact on you and your career path?
I’ve met plenty of people who’ve helped to shape my career, but probably the biggest was someone I never actually worked directly for, who also happened to have graduated from St. A’s, but before I had gotten there. I always respected the way he led the newsroom and was able to put out fires with employees and readers but still create a fun atmosphere that made people want to come to work. He’s one of my few friends who’s still in newspapers today and I hear he’s still running things the same way, which can’t be easy as the squeeze on newspapers continues.
In my eight years covering AV, there have been a few people who’ve stood out and who have helped me to better understand what this industry is all about, although I know I have a lot more to learn. One is Gina Sansivero, who’s now at AtlasIED. I’ve known her longer than anyone in this industry other than my co-workers and she’s been great as a source for stories, a sounding board on industry and outside things and a connection to people who have cool things to share, whether it’s on the record or off the record. Another is Tim Albright of AV Nation, who took a chance on a guy who’s made a career of hiding behind a keyboard by letting me come on AV Week and give my opinions on the news of the week, whether he agreed with me or not. The third person is Brock McGinnis, who hasn’t minded me stealing his sartorial sense in footwear and has provided a wealth of good content for me specifically and CI in general as well as plenty of laughs and wisdom I use in my everyday life and my professional life. I’m sure there are a lot more people who I haven’t singled out (and I probably will hear from them as soon as this is posted), but everyone I’ve talked to and written about has helped me to learn more about AV. I’m sure there will be more between the time I finish writing this and when it’s actually posted.
What advice would you give to some who wanted to transition from one industry to another?
I’ve never made a career transition, only in the type of writing I’ve done, but I’ve never been afraid to ask questions if I don’t understand what they’re saying. That’s how I learned more about architecture and engineering in my last full-time job and it’s how I learn about AV these days. I’m not someone who has an engineering background or a technical mind so I don’t always fully get how these systems come together. I rely on the people I interview to tell the story but that means asking the right questions. Sometimes, I’ll ask a question I think is a softball and it will lead to an answer I never expected and take that story or a future one in a direction I didn’t anticipate.
To remain competitive in the job market, what is one critical skill an employee should have?
You have to always be willing to learn something new. You never know everything about your profession, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. In my job, I’ve gone from being a writer and only a writer to an editor, photographer, videographer, blogger and more. I’m sure there will be another shift in the industry to come and the same is true for systems installers too.
What advice would you give job seekers as they start their careers?
It’s OK to start at the bottom and work your way up. You’re not going to come out of college and be a decision-maker. At the same time, don’t let someone take advantage of your inexperience. Always be willing to do something new and different. You might find out you like it more than the career you spent you’re life picturing yourself doing.
What is a lesson learned you can share that some reading this may benefit from?
No one expects you to be perfect, so when you inevitably make a mistake, own it and do what you can to fix it. Don’t try to hide from it or pretend it didn’t happen. Being honest when you screw up will earn you respect from people a lot more than hiding your mistakes,
What is something that folks would be surprised to learn about you?
No matter what kind of music I tell people I like, they’re always surprised. I don’t know why. My tastes are fairly eclectic and run the gamut of 1980s pop icons like Michael Jackson and Prince to hip hop like Run-DMC and Snoop Dogg to occasional country music, including Garth Brooks to disco stuff including the Bee Gees to classic rock including Aerosmith. I’m not as familiar with current pop music but do try to keep up. One of my biggest regrets in life was missing the live Garth Brooks concert in Central Park many years ago until I finally saw him live a few years ago. I’m also a huge Christmas music fan, from the traditional classics to the more offbeat releases. I add new Christmas songs to my iTunes library every year.
Another thing that may surprise people, although I haven’t been shy about sharing the amateur video of it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnC2aD6e8qk), is that I was part of a Boston regional hot dog eating contest in 2012. I ate seven hot dogs in 10 minutes, because eight would have been too gluttonous, which landed me squarely in last place. To put that into perspective, the winner of that regional contest ate 42 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to narrowly edge me out and Joey Chestnut scarfed down 68 HDBs on July 4 in Coney Island. The funniest part of the video is hearing someone in the crowd say I look like I’m at a Red Sox game while trying to shove the hot dogs in my mouth. Apparently, he knows me fairly well since that’s generally where I eat hot dogs, although never more than two per game.
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