8 Insider Tips for Event Management Students
Officially breaking into the professional world of Event Management can be an extremely exciting time in your life. As a former Event Management major, I know that it can also be very stressful and overwhelming.
Here are 8 bits of advice from my first-hand experience that can help you to make the most of your budding career in this fast-paced industry.
1. Join Clubs or Professional Organizations
When you are new to any industry a fantastic way to meet people is by joining clubs or organizations where your peers or future co-workers are hanging out. Event planning is no exception and joining student organizations will help you to connect not only on campus, but in your community.
These clubs, groups or professional organizations give you a chance to ask questions, learn more about the industry and discover your interests. When I was an Event Management Student, I joined PCMA and MPI as a student member. Like these organizations, many other high level professional groups offer discounted student memberships. Within these groups you can gain access to valuable resources and connections at the beginning of your career.
An important virtual network to join is the Event Planning and Event Management Group on LinkedIn, which has over 250k members and a variety of subgroups including Career Advice for Event Planning and Management and the Student Forum – Event Planning and Event Management. LinkedIn is an important resource for #eventprofs at every stage of their career.
2. Gain a Variety of Experience
Many planners start out in one type of event planning niche and they don’t take the time to broaden their horizons early on. For example, I was very interested in event planning within the sports industry. I interned and volunteered with a variety of sports organizations, gained some value skills and built an impressive resume. However, I didn’t leave my university as well rounded as some of my peers and when I looked to change direction it was more challenging than it would have been if I had broadened my knowledge early on.
Hindsight is always 20/20, so I encourage you to learn from my mistake and take the time to discover as many aspects of the industry as possible. Try job shadowing for a wedding planner or working for a conference center, concert venue, etc. You can also earn a unique perspective by volunteering for events in your community.
You may think you’ll never be interested in some aspect of the industry, but you never know what might be of interest later on in life. This is what makes event management so wonderful! The list of opportunities is endless and the more diverse your experience, the more prepared you will be to take your career in any direction you choose.
3. Intern Within Your Niche
This may sound a bit contradictory to number 2, but I promise it is just as important. Once you spend time exploring and gaining knowledge, you should find a high quality, hands-on learning experience within your niche. This might be an internship or even an entry-level job, but you want to find something that will propel you towards becoming a leader in your sector of the market.
4. Build Quality Relationships
You hear it time and time again, but you never know who you might meet and who they might become. The girl to your left in class could end up becoming your business partner one day. That professor, who teaches your 8 a.m. lecture, might serve on the board at an organization where you’d like to work in the future.
You just never know where your path might lead, so make connections early on in your college experience and foster those relationships as you move into your professional career. This will pay huge dividends in the future.
5. Keep an Open Mind to Feedback
Constructive criticism early on in college might seem like something you can ignore or worry about in the future, but you should start paying attention to your strengths and weaknesses now in order to improve for the future. Being self aware and working towards improving yourself professionally can go a long way when it comes to getting a job, working on an event team or hiring employees.
Feedback can sometime be tough to swallow, but it will make you a better employee and leader down the road. No one is perfect and we can all learn from our mistakes. Take each bit of criticism as an opportunity to improve!
6. Attend Conferences and Networking Events
Once you get towards the end of your college career, I would encourage you to start attending conferences and networking events within your community. Events like these can provide you with excellent continued learning opportunities and the chance to build relationships with people from not only your area, but all over the world.
Many conferences provide information on cutting edge technology or tactics that are sure to set you apart from other planners. They are oftentimes a lot of fun to attend and can lead to excellent career opportunities.
7. Find Your Outlet
Event planning is known as one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Since you have decided to jump in to this crazy world, I would highly encourage you to find a good outlet to relieve stress and keep your mind right.
For me, it is running. After a super stressful day at work, I run until I feel relief. For some people it might be spending time with family, writing in a journal, going to the movies or, on occasion, a tall glass of red wine (just one!). I encourage you to find something that will take your mind off of the work and find time to relax.
This can be a big challenge early in your career, but I promise the work will still be there when you get back from the movies or that long run. Finding time to enjoy your life will help you to enjoy your career so much more.
8. Never Stop Learning
Just when you thought you were done with school! Learning can come in so many forms and fashions these days and it truly never stops for a high-quality event planner.
The business world is constantly evolving, so doing your best to stay educated and knowledgeable will make you attractive to potential clients and employers.
Some of my favorite ways to learn are through watching webinars on interesting topics, reading books on subjects such as marketing or social media and subscribing to blogs, like Event Manager Blog, that stay on the front line of the industry.
Attending college can be an incredibly challenging adventure. There are many different choices to make and directions to explore. The tips above are the best encouragement and perspective I can provide to you as a future Event Manager. Take your time and know that you have made an awesome choice to join this fabulous industry.