My career in… Event Management

Anna currently works at the Careers Service as part of the Employer Liaison team.

So what is it that you do exactly?

Basically we help organisations to find the best ways to recruit you (our students).  My job is also essentially about organising and managing events – from large scale recruitment events to half day workshops, one courses to  week long  conferences.   It probably wouldn’t be obvious to others that my job involves managing events but I suppose that shows that you can have a career in event management in almost any sector or organisation.

How did you get into this field?

I studied English at University so I left with little idea about next steps.  The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to be a teacher!

I suppose I have fallen into this job, working my way up through different administrative roles in the University and acquiring the necessary skills along the way.

What skills or experience do you need?

I think the essential skills for event management roles, whether in the public or private sector, are the obvious one such as the ability to multi-task, meet deadlines and manage your own workload but also things like:

  • Creativity, resourcefulness and problem solving (you always have to fire-fight on the day of events when things don’t go to plan)
  • Being willing to muck in at every level of the process (I often find myself hauling boxes around and filling black bin liners after events have finished)
  • A sense of humour, humility and patience (understanding that you won’t always get recognition for the hard work behind the scenes and that people will take things out on you if technical equipment doesn’t work!)
  • Attention to detail (it’s the little things that make all the difference and set your events apart from others)
  • A willingness to work unsocial hours (this tends to apply more in the commercial sector but I often do work early mornings and after hours)

I have friends and colleagues who work for commercial events management  companies and they all say the same.  You have to be a people person who gets a buzz from pleasing others and thrives under pressure.

Do you need qualifications or particular experience?

Although there are more and more professional courses in events management popping up, the general feeling I get from people in this industry is that you don’t need a formal qualification.  You need experience of organising events or activities and also evidence of the skills I’ve mentioned above.  You can get experience in so many ways that it will be noted if you haven’t done something relevant.  You can get involved with University societies, volunteer for charity fundraising events, get paid work by joining an agency which supplies staff to functions etc.

I honestly love my job and feel fortunate that I come to work each day faced with variety, challenge and opportunity to exercise my creativity.

What are the best and worst things about your job?

  • I think the best thing about my job is being able to manage your own projects, put your stamp on them and the sense of reward and satisfaction when things go to plan.
  • The worst thing?  Lying awake at 3am in the morning the night before an event, when there’s nothing I can possibly do about it, worrying whether things will in fact go to plan!

Where would you suggest people look for jobs in this area?

As I’ve mentioned, event management roles can be found in many different organisations.  A good place to start looking is on the Eventia website which has an excellent membership directory and lots of industry information, plus job listings.  Event magazine  is the industry trade publication.  Plus there is the Society of Event Organisers, Association of Event Organisers and Association for Conferences and Events  and a number of other related sources of information online.  See the Prospects job profile for Events Organiser.

Anna
Employer Liaison Manager

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