AET Power Duo Lands Full-Time Offers Together


April 18, 2024
Jayden Chavez and Em Dryer

Jayden Chavez and Em Dryer, December ‘23 graduates, reflect on how their AET experience brought them together — as coworkers and close friends

By Neerul Gupta

In December 2023, Jayden Chavez and Em Dryer graduated with Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET) degrees. Soon after finishing their degrees, they became coworkers at Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW), a leading design and consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas. But they’d known each other long before.

The two met in Spring 2022 in AET classes. Soon after, they took their friendship to work. The two shadowed the CMT Music Awards, worked on the production team for two Live Design International conferences, and collaborated on numerous class projects. These experiences led Chavez to specialize in design and Dryer in project management. “Our skills complement each other, and we’re a power duo because of it,” said Chavez.

Chavez and Dryer’s professional journeys took off in Professor Matt Smith’s Live Event Engineering class. “Matt took the time to learn our interests, develop our skills, and connect us with professionals,” said Dryer. One such professional who visited their class was Dave Vieira, principal at WJHW and a friend of Smith’s from UT graduate school. Interested and eager, Chavez and Dryer kept in contact with Vieira. After many meetings, interviews, and follow-up emails, both found their place in WJHW, albeit through different paths.

Chavez began a Theatrical Systems internship with WJHW in Summer 2023, during which she commuted between Austin and San Antonio five times per week. Her consistency and dedication were recognized, and Chavez transitioned into a part-time role in the fall. During this time, Vieira asked Chavez if she knew anyone who would be a good fit for their team, and Chavez knew just the person.

“I felt comfortable advocating for Em because we had worked together so much over the past few years,” said Chavez. “Em was the only person who made sense for the job.”

This past spring, Chavez started working at WJHW full-time as a Theatrical Systems and AV Experience Designer alongside Dryer, who began as an Assistant Project Manager. Just like old times, they continue to work on several projects together at WHJW. Most recently, the pair returned to the 40 Acres this past month to speak on behalf of the company at SDCT’s semesterly Career City Limits series.

The duo’s friendship continues to serve as a testament to their hard-earned work and the life-changing potential of the SDCT. “Our friendship is special because we both have a drive to continue growing,” said Dryer. “We took every opportunity that SDCT provided — that’s what got us here. It definitely paid off.”

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