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Finding a Career Working with a DAM System

By Elizabeth Keathley on December 8, 2016

Notes from Elizabeth’s Email

This blog is part of series where I address common themes in email questions I receive at efkeathley@atlantametadata.com.

In my practice as both a consultant and advocate for Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems and best practices, I often receive emails asking for advice or thoughts on common DAM, MAM, PIM, LMS and related asset management systems.

Introduction from a Colleague

Good Evening, Ms. Keathley:

I was referred to you by a (pick one: professor/internship manager/former co-worker/member of professional organization). I am a graduate of (pick one: archives program/library science school/photography preservation institute/historical preservation scam) and I wish to apply the skills I’ve acquired in (pick one: my internship/my education/my previous jobs) to the Digital Asset Management market.

Can you offer me any advice in gaining employment in the DAM field? I have excellent references, and would love to pursue Digital Asset Management as part of my career path.


DAM Hopeful

Oh, DAM Hopeful, if there were only a way I could show you to sure-fire employment with a reliable DAM system like that offered by the host of this blog, FotoWare. Unfortunately, the path to a Digital Asset Management job remains an uncertain one, and Digital Asset Managers themselves come from varied educational and professional backgrounds. However, I have compiled a list of general advice that I give out in general to everyone seeking DAM employment, and I offer it here for your enjoyment.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts hen seeking a career in Digital Asset Management:

DON’T take lunch or dinner meetings with consultants or contractor firms who aren’t advertising jobs.  This is a tough one for those coming out of internships or short term employment, but it’s a necessary caution, especially to young people in the United States. Several large DAM consulting firms in the US are known for fishing for industry information under the guise of hiring. They use lunches or “interviews” with interns, contract employees, or student workers to get information not usually publicly disclosed to further their own business. This includes the names and contact information of Digital Asset Managers, given by the “interviewee” as a reference – which is then turned into a sales lead for the unethical consultant. The consultant seems to magically know the DAM system the company is uses, and the strengths and weaknesses of its deployment. All this information was gleaned, of course, from a former intern or contract employee who honestly thought they were interviewing for a real job. The potential job never existed, of course.

I once warned a former contract employee about this practice. She had been contacted for a lunch “interview” by a large DAM consulting firm infamous for its fake interview process. On my advice, she turned the interview down. The next day she was then contacted by a DAM implementation firm, and excited, she met them for lunch. It turns out they were working with the same infamous contracting firm, seeking the same sort of information!  My former contract employee felt cornered over steak and fries, and ended up guiltily giving up the name of a system being used by a Fortune 50 company – she had to talk about her work, and was still hoping there might be a new contract job on offer.

There was no job on offer with either the DAM consultants or the DAM implementation firm. The infamous consulting firm had gone so far as to use another company as cover for collecting information on DAM system deployment. Don’t sell information on your former work environment for a nice lunch. A red flag for this sort of scam is a lack of job posting from the company. If the consulting firm isn’t advertising that they need new people, be careful. If you decide to take that free lunch, be very guarded about what you discuss, making it clear that you are there to make professional contacts, not to trade information for a (temporarily) full stomach.

DO attend DAM meetups in your area. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with an active DAM community, be sure to participate! DAM meetups ( https://www.meetup.com/topics/...) lead to an expansion in job prospects. Don’t just go there to network though; genuinely express your personality, interests, and try to make friends.

http://www.stuffmomnevertoldyo... Simply stated, Shine Theory is the idea that we should all promote and celebrate the success of others, as a good promotion for another means an eventual good promotion for you. If you and a friend are up for the same position, and your friend gets the job – celebrate their success and realize that you now have a connection to the kind of job you want. Although Shine Theory was rooted initially in feminist theory of sublimating female competition and jealousy, I firmly believe that this model of professional friendship should transcend female-female relationships. I have genuinely invested in friendships with many of my professional colleagues; the rewards of personal insight have followed the more transient rewards of professional success. Fair warning to all my colleagues: if you invite me to stay at your house, I will show up, usually with several family members in tow, and hang out until it is no longer polite to stay. All Americans tend to take home invitations seriously, but it’s quite true that I take invitations with more sincerity than most – I’m genuinely interested in building long term connections with interesting people, so if I think you’re smart and you invite me to stay at your house, I’m showing up. If you think your invitation is safely protected by an ocean or several time zones, let me assure you that Atlanta has an airport, and I use it frequently.

Building long-term relationships with your colleagues ensures long-term rewards, both personal and professional. While the consultants burning young workers for information over fake interviews may be enriching themselves now, where will those sort of tactics put them in five or ten years?

DO keep at least three versions of your resume on hand. These three versions should all contain the same truth of your employment history, of course, but each should use different language to describe your skills and experience. One resume should highlight your experience managing people and systems; one resume should focus on your technical and programming knowledge; one should highlight your professional passion (for example, your work in libraries, or with art galleries, or publishing). While your ideal job will combine your passion with your skills, be prepared to use these resumes to apply for very general administrative jobs, like office manager. Often knowledge of Digital Asset Management or Enterprise Management Software will be seen as an asset to another job, like the kind advertised in human resources or information management. When interviewing for these generalized positions, talk up your interest in DAM systems used in those fields. Often an administrative or information management systems job advertised as general management can turn into a DAM job when the right person is hired. Be sure to emphasize version control and an interest in organizing graphics and other visual resources in the interview. After you have distinguished yourself in a very generalized job as a digital asset manager, it’s more likely opportunities to work with a DAM, PIM (Product Inventory Management), LMS (Learning Management System), or DM (Document Management) system will be presented to you.

DON’T conduct a job search that is just focused on Digital Asset Management. There are many systems in different work environments that are simply DAMs by another name. LIMS, or Laboratory Inventory Management Systems, exist in most medical work environments, and are always in need of staffing, as are the previously mentioned LMS (Learning Management Systems) used by both universities and lower schools. Skills learned on the job working with these and other DAM-like systems can help you transition to a position dealing with visual assets later in your career. Educate yourself on the system in use at the hospital or school system near you, and look for jobs that mention that system by name. Prepare yourself to answer questions about how these systems differ from the commonly used tools of SharePoint, DropBox, and shared drives. You can impress your potential employer by acknowledging that these systems represent a change in our daily work lives, and that the field is still emerging.

So you want to be a Digital Asset Manager. That’s a great path forward for someone with a background in many different disciplines! Just be sure to keep yourself open any possibility you might come across to work with a platform dedicated to the arrangement, description, preservation, and access of digital assets. Whatever they call that system in the work environment where it exists, it’s really a DAM.

More inspiring content on DAM career, implementation or simply usage is part of Elizabeth's column here. Subscribe now to get notified when the new DAM article is up or read more from Elizabeth on:  http://www.fotoware.com/blog/the-dam-choice-committee-needs-your-help