Taking a Course in Event Management – A Sign of Commitment or Waste of Time and Money?
I was asked for my opinion again last week, on the growing numbers of students who are graduating with a degree in Event Management and whether their choice of course meant that they utilised three years of their lives effectively or ineffectively.
I don’t follow the idiom of lining up to bash and criticise anyone who does this, because there are some students who will go on to become excellent event producers and managers. I believe that there is no singularly correct answer to this question.
Because it all depends entirely on the individual who has undertaken the course and moreover, what they have done alongside their studies, to gain as many different types of experience of events as possible.
Start Your Success as a Student
The students who will be successful quicker and more comprehensively than their peers, are likely to be those who have volunteered or found paid employment -allowing them to see events developing from conception through to post event wash ups with clients. They will have had many more opportunities to have either applied their learning in live situations or to support others in the implementation of these concepts.
The theory behind several of the skills needed to be an excellent event manager can be taught at University. I’m thinking of health and safety, budgeting and logistics. Bringing these areas together though, needs on the ground, real life, hands on experience – and several years of it to be confident and handle whatever an event throws at you with little or no notice. Suppliers and parameters can change very quickly; this is something when only experience can give someone the confidence to handle it whilst also ensuring that the clients either know nothing of it (or as little as possible so as to not worry them unduly) whilst something is resolved.
Event Management Top Tips
If you are a student of any level undertaking event management training, here are our top tips for making the most of your training.
- Couple your training with some hands on experience – volunteer at every opportunity and ask for specific tasks which you can be assessed upon for a reference after the volunteering period concludes.
- With all events, ensure you truly understand your client. Whether private, blue chip, corporate or government – ensure that there is an agreed brief. You will also need to understand your client’s real objective – achieved by reading between the lines. Experience will enable you to do this with increasing rates of success and will give you the edge over your competitors. We all know what someone has said, but what is it that they are truly trying to say?
- Take your time to understand everything – an event that over that delivers is better than one that doesn’t, so take your time asking questions and when listening to responses note everything you can. When a tender is posted, drill down to the person who put it together. Ask them questions and understand what they are really being measured upon.
The biggest mistake anyone – including a student or inexperienced event manager can make, is to assume they know better than the client. We know of someone who went to the wrong Newcastle after telling a client they didn’t need all the directions. Assume nothing is a good place to start from because other things are important as well – when you know that you are hosting an event in a hotel and they provide a floor plan, don’t assume it to be correct. You will need to measure it yourself and you’ll also need to take your camera or use your phone to take 360 degrees of photographs. The same applies to menus and logistics.
Stand Out – For the Right Reasons
To really stand out when starting out in event management, remember that you will be the first person to arrive and the last to leave. You will be working from the early hours to potentially right through to the early hours of the next day. You are working and as such it’s important to be professional – we don’t hide somewhere for a crafty cigarette, slouched over the bins. People will notice, no matter how far away you are from the action. You’ll also stand out by constantly checking – for more than 25 years, I (and other successful professionals) have checked, checked and checked everything again.