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Finding a great internship can open many doors and lead to an exciting career. This rings especially true in the event planning industry, as more and more planners are coming into the workforce with years of experience and impressive skills. In order to stand out and get the job, you need to set yourself apart and find ways to shine above the rest. Following these 10 tips will put you on the right path towards a future filled with event success.
1. Be Prepared
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" is a quote attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, that still rings true today. When you are starting out in your career, you need to be prepared for every opportunity that comes your way.
This could mean having your resume prepped and ready to go, or refining your interview skills as you look to start applying for positions. You never know when someone will present you with an opportunity, so you need to be ready when these chances become available.
You should also be prepared for the different type of internships you might encounter. Most event-related internships may have a time commitment associated with them, such as summer, school semester, or perhaps a time frame spanning from the start of the planning process through the completion of the event.
You may also find that some internships pay you a stipend and cover your expenses, such as food, housing, etc. while others may only pay a limited hourly wage, or only serve as course credit for your degree.
Being ready for both the opportunity to arise and the variety of positions you might encounter will better prepare you as you begin your internship search.
2. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Every planner has niche or distinct area where they plan to focus their career and many of us find this area just as we are starting out. However, you never know when an opportunity could arise that, although it may not seem perfect at first, could lead you towards a wonderful career.
So try something new and step outside of your comfort zone. Just because you are familiar with a segment of the event market doesn't mean that is where you will find your dream job. Often times the best experiences come from doing something that scares you a little bit.
3. Seek Out New Locations
When you start exploring your options for internships be sure to reach beyond the city limits of your current location. Events happen all over the world and planners in every city are looking for quality interns to assist on their team.
This is the time to explore new places and meet people that could help you throughout your future. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and try out something new while you are young and a little more flexible in your career choices.
4. Volunteer for a Variety of Events
One of the the only ways to truly know if you will enjoy working in an industry, is by gaining real experience. Unfortunately most internships prefer to hire people with at least some experience and often times this experience comes in the form of volunteerism.
Being a volunteer can give you a great look at what you like in a potential job description and perhaps the things you don’t enjoy. Try out a few different events, gain some experience and serve your community at the same time. This will help you to build your resume and connect with people which could assist you in finding a dream internship.
5. Find a Mentor
Mentors come in many different forms, but they are becoming a tremendous advantage for young people entering the professional world, or individuals looking to make a career change. Your mentor could be a colleague or fellow student, along with a professor, or even a hired career coach. It doesn’t matter always much where you find your mentor, but more so that you truly connect with them and that they are someone you can trust to assist you in your career journey.
Your mentor can utilize their network as well to help you build connections and also seek out opportunities for you. Many companies start their intern search by recruiting through former interns, employees or their network of vendors and clients. Finding a mentor who is well connected in the industry is sure to lead you towards a great internship.
6. Stay Up to Date on Trends and Event Knowledge
Keeping yourself in the loop on the trends and breakthroughs in the industry will be an impressive skill when you finally land an interview. The good news is, that by reading EventMB you are already on the right track! Showing a potential employer that you are educated and passionate about the event management field makes you a huge asset to any event team.
You can learn a lot about the industry through formal education and certifications, but staying up to date on recent developments is a skill we all must work at on a regular basis. Our industry is exciting and ever evolving which is a fabulous benefit, but also brings a certain level of accountability.
7. Try a Cold Call
As you dig in into your career or education you will become familiar with some of the popular event companies or vendors in your city. If you are interested in potentially working for them, but find that they don’t have an available internship posted, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Cold calls can be a bit intimidating, but sometimes being bold will get you a big opportunity that might not have been available otherwise. The worst they can say is “no, we aren’t looking for an intern”, but I bet they will respect you for the interest you have shown in their company and the bravery it takes to make a call.
8. Network with Other Planners and Students
While other people who are in your industry may seem like the competition, they can also be your biggest asset. There are plenty of great internships to go around! The more you network and connect with your peers, the more you will hear about these exciting new internships and event related jobs.
Join a club or an association group at your school or in your community. There are also great online communities where you can connect with planners around the world as well as in your area. These will help you as you look to expand your network and build a list of potential opportunities.
9. Find Unique Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out
Resumes…. everyone has one, yet very few of them have the ability to stand out rise above the rest. The main purpose of a resume or CV is to help you gain the interview. Yes, it should include information about your experience and education, but if it doesn’t catch the attention of the recruiter you may never have a chance to interview and show your skills.
Start out by creating a website that includes not only your resume, but also samples of large school projects or work, previous volunteer activities, educational accomplishments, references, and anything else you think your potential employer may want to know. You can link to the site on your physical or digital resume and encourage the hiring staff to learn more about you.
Check out some of these interesting ideas in which people have tailored their resumes to the companies they are applying for. Applicants have created cleverly designed websites and even Lego resumes to land their dream jobs. Thinking outside the box is always a great way to get recognized and potentially get hired!
10. Know Your Rights as an Intern
Even though you are looking for an internship that, at times, might come along with some grunt work, you should be seeking out opportunities that provide you with a fair and law abiding experience. You can learn more about the laws in your country or state by looking into the laws on internships and internship hours. The US Department of Labor’s website and GOV.UK’s section on employment rights and pay for interns are good places to start. This will help you to be knowledgeable and educated on what you deserve and what you should look for in a quality internship position.
Internships can be an exciting and scary part of your event planning journey. You are finally breaking into the field and these opportunities will guide you towards a wonderful future as a planner. Learn from every chance you get and make the best of each experience. Following the steps above will help you to think outside the box, display your skills and land you that next big career move!