What should I do if I want to be an Event Planner? That was the question waiting for me when I answered the phone the other day. On the other end was a friend’s daughter (yes I’m old) who will be graduating from university with a business degree this spring. And as you could surmise has decided event planning is the career for her. And while she is excited at the thought she has no idea where to start. My first question to her was “Are you sure”? As anyone in this industry already knows this is a career takes a lot of hard work, time, multi-tasking, energy and passion. And for anyone thinking about a career in event planning knowing what an event planner does really is the first step.
Industry outsiders, my family included, think that an event planner’s job is all about the bells and whistles of parties and socializing. That we stroll about, glass of wine in hand accepting all the compliments for a job well done. A relative once told me how lucky I was because I get to go and enjoy so many great events and celebrations, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth.
What Does An Event Planner Really Do?
If contemplating a career as an event planner, first and foremost it is imperative to understand what an event planner does indeed do. It is the job of an event planner to plan, coordinate and oversee each and every component of a meeting, event, conference or incentive program. A planner is responsible for the overall event operations and logistics by working with the client to establish their desires, requirements and objectives. The job can consist of an endless amount of details from budgets to schedules; site selection to contract negotiation; supplier management to menu coordination; and most times the list of tasks seems literally never ending. Let’s not forget about staying on top of all the city protocols, laws, street permits and any legal requirements. And don’t get me started on the individual personalities, unrealistic expectations, long hours and demanding work that are all part of the job. No matter the type of event or experience the event planner is accountable for every part.
First Steps to Figuring Out If An Event Planner Career is For You
Research and Learn – Learn about the industry. Take the time to research the ins and outs of what an event planner actually does on a day to day basis. The title event planner covers a plethora of positions, everything from wedding professional to meeting planner from corporate planner to catering consultant from conference organizer to meeting manager. So consider what role you are interested in tackling. Talk to industry professionals to see what the job means to them, read books and magazines and go online to understand the outlook, opportunities, expectations and what interests you most.
Get Experience – Connect with some planners and ask if you can volunteer to work in the office and on site. Or offer your help; to a friend planning a wedding, events at your kid’s school, to a hotel or industry organization, to a fundraiser or festival just get engaged. The only way to find out what this industry and position are all about and what it really takes for success is to get involved. Think outside the box and whenever possible ask questions lots of questions. If you don’t have any planning experience volunteering is a great way to understand what it’s all about and get some on the job training. The bottom line is to do whatever it takes to learn and improve your know-how and understanding by getting some hands on involvement and experience.
Network, Network, Network – I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” but I feel when it comes to success it takes a combination of both. It is imperative for event planners new or otherwise to get out and meet like-minded individuals and establish those essential contacts and relationships. It is the perfect chance to seek out opportunities to learn and improve. Networking is a great tool to build interest, develop connections and enhance and support long lasting relationships. A networking event is a good way to see and be seen and a very important part of a successful career. Company growth in this industry, in part, relies on the people you know and the people that know you. So get out there, pass out the business cards and network, network, network.
Before you jump in with both feet, take the time to chew it over and appreciate the job is not all fun and flash and really understand what it takes to be an event planner. Remember event planners and planning takes a whole host of skills and truly does require the wearing of many different hats. And then if you feel you have what it takes; the ability and passion; and you find hard work fulfilling and gratifying; this may just be the career for you.