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6 ways to kick-start a career in event management

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By Lorne Armstrong, co-founder and director of the Event Academy

Event management covers a huge range of activities, from London Fashion Week to Glastonbury, from the Chelsea Flower Show to Wimbledon, from weddings to private parties to international conferences.

Every one of these demands precise organisation if they’re to run smoothly, from logistics, production, and design, to food and drink, entertainment, budget planning and technology - all of these are aspects of a career in event planning.

If you are ambitious and want to have a successful career in the sector, here some tips for how to set yourself apart.

1. Qualifications

Gaining a specific qualification in events will of course be helpful to your new career, but it’s by no means essential. A full-time alternative to a degree course, such as a vocational course, will mean you’ll be able to move into working in the sector far more quickly (and more cheaply) than if you studied a traditional degree first. As vocational courses offer opportunities to gain experience through volunteering and work placements, you’ll also be building a new career path and network of contacts as you learn. For a comparison between vocational qualifications and university degrees visit the Event Academy’s website.

2. Research

Researching the events industry by attending industry events and reading industry blogs / magazines and social media offers a way to begin recognising trends, names and companies within the industry, as well as for keeping up with industry news. You can also take time out to go to a trade sector event. This is a great opportunity to speak to people directly about a career in the sector and to get a better feel for the type of talent it attracts.

3. Reach out with social media

If you are not already, get adept with social media. In events this is a vital tool for communicating, marketing and publicising events and it also helps create your social media presence – essential for gaining traction in the industry.  Whilst there are degree course with modules on this sort of thing, nothing beats real hands on experience. Tap into key industry events, the local gossip, create your own online network and start to cultivate professional relationships which you can develop into the future.

4. Get stuck in – volunteering and networking

It’s really important to start establishing industry relationships early on. As well as making social media connections, volunteering is also a good way to get started. In this way you can not only identify where the opportunities lie, but also start to recognise the types of event planning roles which appeal to you.

Try to gain practical, hand-on experience to showcase your skills, whether by volunteering at community or national events, running a charity event, or organising social, entertainment or other live events at college.  This will help provides real evidence for a professional portfolio.

Ensure you make a positive impression and exchange business cards (even if you’re not in business for yourself, you should provide a card with basic contact details) so that you can start to build up a network of potential contacts.

5. Polish your CV

If the qualifications side of the CV looks a little empty, take an industry accredited certificate or diploma course so that you can offer a relevant industry qualification. You can fill qualification gaps by adding all the relevant experience and roles undertaken during your research or learning phase, especially those which demonstrate your commitment, problem-solving attitude and communication skills. Remember to also list your current (and growing) list of competencies which are relevant to roles in events, such as proven customer-facing skills, organisation and marketing skills, budget handling and communication strengths.

6. Get an internship

Getting an internship is also a great way to get a leg-up into the industry. In-house employment or work-experience from a consultancy in the events sector are a great way to get work experience, learn new skills and competencies as well as  fine-tuning what you have already learned. A real slice of the action will also help you to decide if a career in events is really for you and/or whether you’d prefer to specialise in another area of events. Internships are one of the most popular aspects of our programmes and offer a real leg-up when it comes to moving from a qualification directly into a job.

 


Lorne Armstrong is a co-founder and director of the Event Academy, a training business for the events industry. He is also the founder of experiential agency INVOLVE, and has worked in event management for more than 25 years.

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