Do Event Management Programs Prepare You for an Event Planning Career?

So you’ve graduated from an event management program with a wealth of knowledge….now what? Expectations of a middle management position with large salary and extensive vacation time? Then reality hits home! There are limited jobs available for entry level positions, with modest salaries and limited vacation time. When reality hits one tends to think back on your education and wonder “What did I get myself into?”

I’ve been there myself and reached out to other graduates to inquire if I was alone in this abysmal feeling.

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Thankfully, I was not, and neither are you! Many graduates leave their studies and feel that they are prepared in theory but not in a practical sense. Is this the fault of our education system? I don’t believe it falls entirely on their shoulders. The system unfortunately is designed this way. Event planning is something that encompasses so many hands-on aspects that a purely theoretical education will never FULLY prepare you for your first, tenth or five hundredth day on the job.

What do I suggest is the solution to ensuring that you graduate with a firm grasp of both theory and practical knowledge of event management?

  1. Give back: Join organizations and associations that are both within the industry and that encompass your personal passions. Make yourself available to volunteer in any capacity at the events held by these groups. Be engaging, interested and present in every role that you are given. You will be noticed and will get coveted networking opportunities.
  2. Exceed expectations: If your program requires a six week internship try to negotiate a three month opportunity. While the grades are important spending more time at the organization will give you a greater chance of seeing projects through to fulfillment.
  3. Speak up: Find someone in the industry whom you admire and reach out. Most individuals are excited to teach someone who is excited to learn about the industry. Ask if you can assist with tasks during the planning and execution of an event. Schedule monthly meetings to ask questions that you may have or to share concepts that you have learned.
  4. Trust yourself: Every opportunity will not fit everyone so be sure to stay true to yourself and choose people, organizations and opportunities that you would be proud to have your name and character attached to.

Using these tips while also incorporating the wealth of knowledge that you received in class will allow you to step into the industry with confidence, the required knowledge and the applied ability.

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