A Newcomers Guide To Joining The Events Industry
When I tell people I work in events, they look at me enviously and tell me how much fun I must have; they imagine I spend my days eating macarons, sniffing peonies and sipping champagne, all at fabulous venues of course. There is some truth behind this; I couldn’t work this hard if there weren’t a few perks along the way to sweeten me up, but of course there is another side to event planning…. The reality is spreadsheets, piles of data and directing suppliers out of muddy fields at 12am in wellies and rain, (me circa Saturday night). Not so glamourous right?
With the dreamy perception of a planner’s daily routine, I can fully understand why I receive so many emails from bright eyed hopeful event planners hoping to break into the exciting world of events. It can be heavenly at times and we do tend to only include the super fun parts on our hashtag lifeofaplanner intsa feeds…oopsy.
So I have put together a little advice for anyone who may be mulling over a career change into the glitzy/greasy world of events…
Is this the right career for you?
I don’t enjoy my job 100% of the time. I work insane hours and on event weeks, I might work between 14-18 hours a day for three days with barely time for a bathroom break, let alone a break, break. Unless you are working in the Corporate Events world, you can also forget your relaxing weekends. ‘It’s Friyay”…. no, no, no. Friday means work is just beginning and ‘Saturyay’ is going to be filled with your colleagues rather than loved ones, sore feet, huge amounts of pressure and an M&S sandwich if you’re lucky. So my point is, unless you are a super hard worker and don’t mind working unsociable hours, then don’t even try to persuade yourself this is your ideal career.
What is the right event route for you?
Decide what it is that makes you yearn to be involved with events: food, design, brides, hotels, fashion, corporate, launches, charity, luxury, multi-day conferences etc. There are so many different types of events so try and be clear from the start what it is that you are going to enjoy working on every day.
Contact a few companies that you admire and offer to work on an event as an assistant (don’t expect to be paid – we do because we’re lovely, but many don’t). Working on an event is the best way to see if you really enjoy it, rather than signing up to lots of expensive courses and taking the chance if it is not for you. If you do gain some work experience then ask if they would write a reference for you to show to a future employer.
Also keep in contact with them, as they may have positions available in the future. When my current Director of Weddings contacted me about working with Goose & Berry I had no openings, however she kept in contact and when we had a new role available the job was hers.
Social Media Savvy
For me, the thought of having to text back friends is a chore itself, let alone constantly networking with businesses, however you must learn to deal with it. We have created many fabulous relationships and generated masses of new business from social networking. There are so many wonderful people in this industry and following what they’re up to fills you with creativity and excitement. If you don’t have Instagram and Twitter, you should do; you must be on top of your social media game. Start following everyone that you admire – brands, marketing, events, caterers, wedding planners, venues, PR – anything relevant or inspiring. Interact with them as much as you can and don’t be afraid to congratulate and take inspiration. There are some wonderful blogs with fresh content to keep you excited (I’ve heard the Goose & Berry Blog is pretty awesome). There are also some great magazines you can read to keep you in the knowledge of what’s current and a great insight into the trade to keep you business savvy.
You’ll be surprised how much companies check out potential employees on social media and coming across as passionate, interested and knowledgable will work wonders for your credibility.
Build your CV
So you’ve decided this industry is right for you? Great, time to start looking attractive to potential employees. Compiling a creative CV is crucial to getting you spotted. Think of your CV as more of a portfolio of what you have accomplished and what you are capable of accomplishing. I’m impressed with straight A*’s, but more impressed by experience, skills, and creativity.
A few ideas to get you started…
- Include images of any work that you may have already created.
- Create a mood board and event plan for an event you would love to create.
- Offer to help any friends and family with events they might have coming up and get lots of good photos from these events. Style the christmas table, offer to help make invites for a friends wedding, organise a friends baby shower dessert table and so on.
- If you have a niche then work on it – flower arranging, designing invites, styling, beauty, baking, hair etc. Create little projects for yourself and get as many fabulous images as you can. If employees can see that you have a creative talent, then they will appreciate your skills may be transferable.
- We spend 90% of our time behind a desk, so great computer skills are a must. Specialist applications will set you out from the rest – spreadsheets, a whizz on photoshop, design packages – anything creative or organisational based will be a huge draw for event companies.
If you approach a company with experience or a portfolio of what you are capable of, they are more likely to be interested rather than approaching companies stating you are ‘hoping to get into events’. I have emails from people all the time writing this and it makes me concerned that they have no experience, they will need to be taught everything from scratch and if I do give them a chance and invest time into training them, then they may change their mind and decide the events industry is not for them.
First Jobs and Internships
Contact any companies you admire and ask if they might have any part time, full time or internship rolls available. It might not be in a position you want but once you get your foot in the door you can commence the dazzling process. Be careful about accepting a non-paid internship for a non-established company; make sure it is one that you really admire and appreciate their work.
There are so many styled shoots happening at the moment so why not contact Wedding Planners and ask if you can assist on the day. You may be making cups of tea or carrying a brolly to shelter a model, but sometimes there are up to 10 suppliers working on these shoots so this would be an invaluable opportunity to network.
You could also try venues – there are so many luxury hotels that often hire wedding coordinators or events and banqueting assistants, even bar and waitressing jobs – these are great roles to begin with so you can gain some great experience. Experience at a luxury venue will add prestige and weight to your CV.
Look at planning and/or design courses that you might want to attend. There are so many different courses so be choosy about what you sign up for. You want a course that offers a ‘ hands on’ element. You can’t learn how to deal with clients, win business or problem solve from a text book.
Working in the Event and Hospitality Industry is not for the faint hearted, so make sure that whatever event route you take* it’s one that you enjoy.
Words by Hannah Martin
* always ALWAYS wear flats on event days.
Goose & Berry are a Luxury Catering, Wedding & Event company who specialise in Weddings, Social and Corporate Events. We are based in Marlow & London and cover London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.
Did you know we also Plan and Design Weddings and Events