The really exciting thing about working in events is the vast array of different types of events you might find yourself working on. Yes of course there are meetings, conferences, product launches, fashion shows, festivals, parties and even weddings, but if you are prepared to look a little deeper, you might just be surprised at the opportunities sitting right under your nose, or hidden in the job advertisements, simply because they don’t say; ‘Event Manager Wanted’.
My first event job came about because I showed some initiative and helped a Corporate Manager organise a dinner party. I was working in a Bank at the time and before I knew it, I was helping a team of Corporate Mangers organise their business/social events; from golf days, to dinner parties and team building weekends away and an annual fundraiser. Not all of my ‘event planning’ looked like planning an event with catering, entertainment and a MC, sometimes it was simply diary management, or booking a table at a restaurant (always the best table and the right restaurant), but it was event planning none the less. Had that job have been advertised I expect my employer at the time would have simply referred to it as an Executive Assistant role, or perhaps even an Admin job, but the main duties I carried out had become, what I now know to be, Event Planning. It was my first lesson in looking beyond the job title and into the job description to find the job you want. It was also my first lesson in understanding that you can sometimes create the job you want, where you work.
So what are some of the jobs you could be considering, that will give you event experience, but may not have the word, ‘event’ in them?
Venue Coordinators are found in most venues and may work on just weddings, or just events, or a combination of both; it really depends on the venue and the clientele they attract. A Venue Coordinator is said to work for the Venue rather than the client and certainly, one of their key roles is to liaise between the client and venue operations team. They will show a client the venue and pitch it to them to secure the sale (booking) and help coordinate services offered on-site (catering, in house AV & Lighting, valet parking and even accommodation if it is offered on-site). Depending on the venue, they may or may not be on site for the actual wedding or event, but generally they will play a role in overseeing that the elements within their scope, are coming together on the actual day.
Today’s Venue Coordinator, particularly in a Wedding venue may do more than this including overseeing set up of the event. There is a huge variation in the role from venue to venue. But what is generally agreed by most of us who work in the industry, is that a Venue Coordination role is an excellent first job in the Event industry as the scope of the role is more limited than full Wedding or Event Planning.
Proposal Planners offer their services to someone planning to pop the question. Proposal Planners have been around for a while and the service is growing in popularity, but it is still relatively new and not what everyone is looking for; which makes proposal planning a good part-time business, or add on service to an existing Wedding business. It also a great way to gain experience as an Event Planner.
A Proposal Planner will help a client ‘design’ the marriage proposal, find a location, negotiate local laws and regulations and organise permits if required. A Proposal Planner may also be called upon to manage the timeline, help the client work within a budget and even help ‘stage the surprise’. What you can offer as part of your service is really limited by you and your client’s imaginations!
Charity & Not-For-Profit Event Planners
Event Planning is a tool used by many organisations to raise money and awareness for their cause. Hospitals, Not-for-profits, Charities, Community Organisations and more, all rely on events in some way. Very often they also rely on Volunteers to help them plan their events.
Whilst we never like to recommend working for nothing, working with organisations as a Volunteer can be an excellent way to gain experience and all important references that will help you to secure paying jobs. These roles can also often lead to something more if you prove yourself to be an asset to the team. Rachel, who is studying with our Australian Campus is an excellent example of just what you can achieve if you grab an opportunity within the Not-for-profit sector. Watch this interview with Rachel to learn more.
Looking for the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to working in the event industry? Take a closer look at experiential marketing and experiential events. If you have a background in marketing already this will be perfect for you. Whilst not exactly new, it is a form of marketing that is getting hotter. To find companies engaging in this type of marketing and hosting events that are designed to ‘engage’ an audience, head to Google and research companies already offering these types of experiences to their customers.
What is it exactly? Let me hand you over to Wikipedia for a moment:
“Engagement marketing, sometimes called “experiential marketing,” “eventmarketing,” “on-ground marketing,” “live marketing,” “participation marketing,” or “special events” is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand or brand experience.”
Event Magazine have written a fabulous article about experiential events and marketing. If this is something that you can see yourself being part of, have a read and then put yourself right out there and find your opportunity.
A few months ago a Graduate called me with the exciting news that she had just landed her first event job. Of course I asked for details and it took me a moment to understand that she was telling me that her new job was working in a Funeral Home as a Funeral Planner. I was a little taken aback but as I listened I developed an understanding of why she considered this to be an event role. Of course, a funeral is an event, just like a birthday party or christening, even a wedding is. The reason for people gathering may be more sombre but just like those other events, a funeral is a type of social gathering and some even refer to a funeral as a celebration.
Not convinced. Read this excerpt from a job advertisement for a Funeral Planner;
As a Funeral Arranger Conductor, you will support local funeral operations by meeting with bereaved families to plan and arrange funerals, setting up for funeral services at a variety of churches and chapels, and supporting families at the funeral and throughout the arrangement. You will work on a full time basis and some weekend and after hours work will be required.
If you are a good communicator, a compassionate individual and you enjoy helping people to share special moments with their loved ones, this could be the perfect event planning role for you!
As you can see there are many jobs out there that involve event planning. As I mentioned at the very beginning of this post, you may already be working in one and not realise the opportunity you have before you. Perhaps you can turn your current job into something that gives you more opportunities to put your event planning hat on and if not, take stock of the skills and experiences you have and then using your creativity go looking for those event jobs that are hiding within the ‘help wanted’ ads!