All posts in “career in events”

10 Questions from an Intern – My Journey as an Event Professional

IMG_6625I had the opportunity to work with an intern, Erin Quadrozzi, a Hospitality student at Endicott College, over the winter break. She was a delight to have in our office and it was a pleasure showing her “the ropes” onsite at events and during the planning phases of several upcoming events. I’d like to share 10 questions that Erin asked during her parting interview about my career path, a typical day for an event planner and how to prepare for a career in events.

1. What is your professional background and how did you decide to work in this field?
I began my career as a volunteer for a youth leadership organization while I was working in the insurance industry in Boston in my early twenties. I liked organizing, working with people, seeing how solving complex organizational challenges was rewarding and fun. It was a very social experience – collaborative and altruistic – providing high school students with a chance to interact with community leaders.

I joined my father’s moving and storage business shortly after and began working with exhibit and display customers – shipping their booths to trade shows across the county. It was then that I was asked to assist with a hospitality event for customers of one of my trade show clients. They saw that I was organized and was a reliable partner for them, so I said yes to helping. The woman who had asked me was going on maternity leave and planned to come back to finish the planning for this event, but never did, so I saw it to fruition. It was in New Orleans in 1991. We hosted the event at Mardi Gras World where all the floats from the parade are stored. From then, I planned their annual event each year at locations in the US where the show was being held – Atlanta, LA, Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans. At that time, I relied on my colleagues in the International Special Events Society to help me resource vendors and venues. It was before the internet became widely used, so I did all my investigative work through phone calls and the yellow pages. It was exciting traveling to these different locations and creating an event that provided a social experience while meeting the client’s sales and marketing initiatives.

2. What degree(s), coursework, and skills are most helpful to persons entering this field?
I have made a conscious effort to help those who want to enter into the field or advance their careers by sharing my expertise and bringing my colleagues together to also serve as instructors, lecturers and mentors with an online program – Special Events Institute. It’s been rewarding and exciting to see so many event enthusiasts learn from best practices and not have to do it the hard way – by trial and error. I think a combination of course work – either in your community or online – is a great starting point. Add volunteerism, working with a mentor or an internship to put what you’ve learned into action. Those two components will help build an event professional’s skills and confidence.

3. What other careers (or job titles) are related to work in this field?
Event Marketing, Fundraising or Development for Nonprofits, Academic Event Planning, Hospitality, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Wedding or Social event planning, Tour or Travel Specialist – so many industries use qualified organizers or planners to meet their goals – it’s all about creating the experience.

4. What professional organizations (and/or publications) related to this field provide resources for students to help them learn more?
These are the organization that I have found most helpful. For a full list, you check Appendix B in both of my books – How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business and How to Start a Home-based Wedding Planning Business.
MPI – Meeting Professionals International
PCMA – Professional Convention Management Association
ISES – International Special Events Society
NACE – National Association of Catering Executives

5. What do you like and dislike most about your job?
I like the journey – seeing a need and figuring out how to make it happen. I like to see people come together for a purpose and enjoy the experience. I like solving problems, overcoming challenges. I like making something new and different through a creative experience. It’s challenging to have prospects that don’t understand the value of a professional, or who don’t heed your advice. Especially when it comes to safety issues or recommendations to create unique elements of an event. At times, a client comes in with ideas that they have seen or heard about and want to do the exact same thing. It’s more fun if they let you as the event professional, add some nuances or style to make it their own, or do it in a way that will yield a better result.

6. What are advantages and disadvantages of working at small and large organizations?
Small companies allow you to get involved with many aspects of the planning process. You see something from start to finish. On the other hand, you have to do a lot yourself at times. You don’t necessary have the “team” to hand things off to, but you can create your own team of event colleagues and vendors to be your strategic partners and support you. They can fill in when you need them and round out the skills that you have.

Working in a large company, you have access to more resources – an IT department, a marketing department, a travel department – it’s nice being able to dial a number or send an email and have your computer fixed or flight booked. The downside may be that there are more levels of approvals or management – and you may not be able to see all parts that go into the end result of an event.

I have worked as a small business owner for my most of my career, but have had amazing strategic partners that have allowed me to plan large-scale events worldwide, so it is all about the team, no matter the size of the company your work in.

7. If you had to start over again, would you do anything differently? If so, what?
Not really – I have been fortunate to meet many people, travel the world and experience the pleasure of creating successful events that have made a difference to so many people. I have enjoyed the variety of clients – social, nonprofit, corporate, community and academic – and that diversity has really enriched my life. I also have been able to balance my work life with a full home and personal side – having a family, great friends and I enjoy the outdoors when I can. I have no regrets and now, after 29 years in the industry, really love to hear that I have inspired or helped someone who dreams of having a career in events. It’s been very rewarding!

8. How much do you travel for work? Why? How do you balance this with your personal life?
Now I don’t travel as much, but when I did for client events, site inspections or meetings, I relied on support from family and professional services so my children were safe and happy. I have been in a book group for 25 years (although I must admit, I don’t read the book all the time), and love to grow vegetables in the summer, walk my dogs and be outdoors when possible. I think multi-tasking has worked for me – walk the dogs and get exercise – visit friends and read a book – garden and feed my family – things that I can do in small doses throughout my day or week that bring me pleasure!

9. How many hours/week do you work? What sort of work do you take work home, if any?
I guess you could say that I would work all the time – but it’s just living my life. I love what I do, so I am always thinking of new things to do, ways to connect with clients, and how to make projects the best they can be. I typically work at least 8 hours each day and some of the weekends as well. I have a home office so it’s easy to slip into my office and jump on the computer. Once I do, I connect with students and instructors in my courses, work on projects, or take care of business details for my businesses.

10. What is a typical day like? A typical week? Year?
In a day, I spend quite a bit of time on the computer – in my courses with current students, on social media, reading, sharing and connecting, on the phone with colleagues or clients or with marketing or business planning details. I also walk my dogs with my daughter or husband daily, cook and dine with my family, visit a friend or attend an event or meeting. I am on the board of an art gallery and am active in my community with events that may be held during the week.

During a week – I have my daily schedule, and on the weekends, try to spend time outdoors, will take my elderly Mom out for errands or to my home to cook and visit and take care of home chores. I also love music and will see live music or have dinner with my husband and friends when possible.

In a year, I attend professional conventions, speak at colleges, universities or at conferences, vacation with my family and enjoy the seasons of New England. I like to cross country ski, hike and walk, swim and visit the ocean and be with my family, cousins and friends. I plan a few get-away’s a year with my girl cousins to stay connected with them as well. It’s great having support and love – and giving it – I feel very lucky~ I’ve had an amazing career that has allowed me to travel, write books, create educational opportunities for others and give back and have fun along the way.

Setting your Goals for 2016

Your journey through life is like an envelope - it's all about the labels your experiencesput on the front! Where's your letter of life going_ngHappy 2016!

Wishing you all a year ahead filled with good health, prosperity and a steady path to your 2016 goals.

We wanted to share a look at our last year:
• The Academic Specialty Course was launched and enjoyed its first graduates.
• Our Weddings Specialty Course became Educationally Approved by the International Special Events Society (ISES Approved).
• We partnered with Bryant University to offer a Certificate in Event Management through their Executive Development Center.
• We presented 5 more groups of graduates with their Certificate in Special Events Planning – and sent them on their way to job promotions, new businesses and exciting opportunities!

And here’s what we are looking forward to:
• The Corporate Event Course is open – it’s filled with fantastic guest lecturers, charts, tools and resources. We are using Professional Meeting Management as a textbook – it’s a great way to prep for the CMP if that is on your “GOAL LIST”.
• We’ll be speaking at the The Special Event Show on Tuesday (#TSE2016) in Orlando, FL. Instructor Karen F. Salhaney, M. NP and I (Jill S. Moran, CSEP, Executive Director) will be giving a talk on Internship Programs, Tuesday, January 12th at 11:30AM. Stop by if you are at the conference!
• Partnerships – We are working with colleges, universities and associations to bring some exciting new educational offerings to event professionals in the year ahead! Stay tuned!

My personal goals this year center on the theme “moderation”
• Keep goals to a minimum – no more than 3 a day.
• Celebrate even a small success every day.
• Listen to my body – keep it healthy and feeling good through good eating, exercise and rest!
• Take time to enjoy things that recharge and regenerate me – walking, a chat with family or friends, being in my garden or outside.
• Remember to say “thank you “– and smile! Live a life of appreciation and gratitude!

As a gift, I’d like to offer COVER_EventPlanningBusinessa chapter in the latest edition of my book, How to Start a Home-based Event Planning Business. It’s the chapter on Being your Best. I hope it offers some ideas to help you create the life you dream of and enjoy the journey along the way!

We look forward to continuing to be a resource for you and staying in touch in the year ahead!

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Jill S. Moran, CSEP
Executive Director
Special Events Institute

Student Highlight – Julie M. Jones, That’s A Wrap! Events

Julie M. Jones  - That's A Wrap! Events

Julie M. Jones – That’s A Wrap! Events

SEI has given me the opportunity to further my career as an event planner through their online courses, which provide priceless education from highly-acclaimed, International Special Events Society (ISES) certified professionals.  For anyone who has event planning in their blood (like me), the suite of courses offered by SEI is a must!  My life as an event planner, wife, and mother make it difficult to attend formalized “brick and mortar” classes.  The flexibility offered by SEI within their online programs allows me to “do it all” within my schedule demands and constraints.  I cannot say enough about how invaluable this education has been for the goals I have set for myself and my company.”

What made you choose SEI?

I happened upon SEI while performing an internet search on ways I could further my knowledge as an event planner.  I never do anything half-heartedly and event planning is no exception.  I wanted to make sure that I was fully informed and on top of current trends, planning, operations, and management in relation to event planning.  SEI was the perfect option for me.  Not only were the program topics right on point, the flexibility offered by the online classes allowed me to work them into my hectic schedule as an event planner, wife, and mother.

What do you do currently for work and how does education fit in with your career goals?

Event planning is my encore career and although I have years of hands on experience, I want to differentiate myself through knowledge and expertise and ultimately through certification as a CSEP.  SEI is the perfect starting point for this journey.

What do you like most in your courses?

I truly appreciate the interaction and feedback from the instructors during the courses.  They really want their students to understand the material and ultimately succeed in this industry.  Having the opportunity to review and speak to the other students’ work is another facet that I enjoy.  Sometimes it is difficult to open yourself up to new ideas and think “outside the box”.  The student to student interaction opened my eyes to other concepts and strategies that I might not have previously considered.

What do you wish to gain from your certificate?

Achieving certification from SEI will show my clients that I am completely serious about event planning and that I am not satisfied just resting on my laurels.  I am constantly striving for more knowledge within the industry, not only to remain relevant, but ultimately to bring additional value to my clients and their events.  My goal is to become a CSEP through ISES and, in my opinion, the classes offered by SEI are a very necessary part of that process.

Would you recommend this to others?

Absolutely!!  There are so many moving parts within any and every event, big and small.  SEI is teaching their students how to effectively and efficiently manage every aspect of the process. Their programs offer invaluable information from some of the event planning industry’s most trusted and acclaimed professionals.  This truly is a priceless education!

Here’s a look at some of Julie’s work at That’s A Wrap! Events!

Buffet Setting

Ceremony Arbor

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Free Webinar on Student Events 101 with Andrias White, CMP, CSEP

Do you want to learn more about student events? Join us for this FREE WEBINAR – Wednesday, July 22, 12:00 PM EST!

If you are in charge of student events at your school, on an event team at a college or university, or just want to broaden your event planning skills, mark your calendar and join us for our FREE WEBINAR with Andrias White, CMP, CSEP of George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Andrias White, CMP, CSEP

Andrias J. White, CMP, CSEP Event Manager, Office of Admissions Director of Logistics, Washington Scholars Program George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

12:00 PM (Noon) EST

REGISTER NOW!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

* Types of Student Events – from Concerts to Homecoming – Spring Fest to Alumni Weekend

* Challenges on College Campuses – scheduling, budgeting, vendor management and more

* Managing Staff and Volunteers – recruitment, training, evaluation and recognition

* Engaging Faculty and Staff – protocol, processes and partnerships for maximum impact

* Marketing and Communications – how to best communicate with your target audience

* Partnering for Success – working with your constituents for success

She’ll share what it’s like to be a busy Academic Planner and how to best address the need to create successful student-focused events on campus.

We hope to see you next Wednesday!

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Executive Director – Special Events Institute

PS: We’ll be sharing a SPECIAL OFFER for all attendees! Don’t miss out!

Join me in a FREE COURSE – A Career In Events – What’s It All About?

Each semester, I visit the University of New Hampshire to chat with students in the Intro to Event Management class about what it’s like to be an event professional.  I get such a great response from the class – here are a few comments I have heard in the past:

“I didn’t realize what it was really like and all the different things a planner can do! Working with nonprofits, in communities and with people that really don’t understand how to pull all the details together. I know I can make a difference!”

“It’s great to know that you’re not just a ‘party planner’ and there’s a whole world of professionals out there with jobs that actually pay well.”

“There’s a lot more to it than I thought – knowing how to use software programs, being active in social media and being able to create and manage planning documents and spreadsheets – but that’s what makes planners true professionals.”

“I like that I can use my creativity and my business sense at the same time – doing a job each day that I really love!”

So, I decided to create this FREE COURSE and offer it to ANYONE, ANYWHERE through my online education school, to help all those who are wondering…Is a Career in Events Right for Me?

It’s simple to enroll – just complete this ENROLLMENT FORM and create a user name and password on our Student Site to begin the course. There are five topics with video presentations, resources and tips as well as a chance to share your ideas, concerns and questions in forums – with ME!  I’ll be your coach and mentor during the course and answer any questions you have about becoming a professional event or wedding planner.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions as I am always here to help!  I look forward to seeing you in the virtual hallways of the Special Events Institute!


Executive Director and Founder

Career Tips: Education Matters

What better way to take your career and passion to the next level? Commit to mastering Event Management through our program taught by the industry’s very best!

We are accepting enrollments for our upcoming term which begins on October 2oth.

What to expect?

  • Dedicated instructors who share their best practices and  are at the top of their game
  • Online learning – easy, convenient and available when you need it
  • Individual courses or a 5-course Certificate Program
  • Interaction with fellow event enthusiasts and lots of material to help you perfect your craft!

Courses include – Foundations of Event Planning, Event Marketing, Event Design and Decor, Event Production and Logistics, Event Management and Leadership, Weddings Specialty Course.

Register HERE!

We are proud to offer:

  • approved education by the International Special Events Society
  • re-certification hours toward your CMP
  • college credit

Don’t wait – enroll today and graduate by next fall!

Best Practices: color and design

October is a busy time for nonprofits to celebrate and raise awareness for their cause.  With so many worthy causes to support, it’s critical for nonprofits to create events that leave a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd.  Here’s one that carries their brand and message into all aspects of their event:

ENTRANCE:

Color and design – From the moment guests enter, the logo colors are introduced through an entrance arrangement in purple, red, green and goldenrod.

Large focal centerpiece

A stunning arrangement on the crudite table sets the tone incorporating the colors of the logo.

PRODUCTION:

Brand imagery – their logo, color scheme and the event concept is woven into the slides for the program, in the linens, centerpieces, and with lighting. All through the evening, guests are reminded of the mission and the cause.

low and lush

Use theme colors on linens, florals and with lighting and production elements.

color blocked

Let floral designers use their creativity within the guidelines you set – four colors and dimension specs- and enjoy the unique creations!

EVENT ELEMENTS:

Mission and Cause: Telling the story of the WHY for an event is essential in helping supporters to connect and better understand how their support impacts actual lives and makes a difference.

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Connecting guests with the agencies mission is essential in creating a lasting donor relationship.

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Live and Silent Auctions provide additional ways for guests to enjoy the event and support the cause.

DESIGN:

Dress to impress: It’s always challenge to continually create new, fresh experiences for annual events. Consider your space, limitations, guest profile, budget and goals to pull the right combination of design elements together. You’ll want to WOW without breaking the budget which could include in-kind and cash sponsorships, partnerships with event designers and re-purposing and reusing elements in new ways for a new look!

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Try mixing up design elements to fill an open space – consider height, sizing, layout, seating and dining needs.

 

A special thanks to Dina K Photograph for her amazing work – https://www.facebook.com/DinaKPhotography

Alumni Corner: Lisa Perkins of Luck Companies

Lisa Perkins - 2014 Graduate Luck Companies - Richmond, VA

Lisa Perkins – 2014 Graduate
Luck Companies – Richmond, VA

What made you decide to enroll at SEI and become an event planner?
I decided to enroll in SEI, because of the courses the program offered. The course being online fit into my current work schedule. I decided to take this course working toward an Event Planner role with my current organization.

What was your favorite SEI course and why?
My favorite course was Event Design and Décor, this course allowed us to put the learning elements together. Having the visual of what you are learning while using the application of the elements.

What was the biggest takeaway from your studies with Special Events Institute?

My biggest takeaways was truly learning all of elements and practices it takes to put on an awesome event. I learned how to generate and complete checklists for events no matter the size to ensure every element is accounted for.

What next steps did you take after receiving your Certificate from SEI?
I generated a Business Plan and presented to the organization to move forward with the Event Planner role. Since that, I have been working on events within the organization, displaying the true need for a permanent Event Planner. It has be a wonderful experience. I am anxiously awaiting the Specialty Courses coming this Summer, so I can complete the entire program and move forward with my CSEP.

What advice do you have for the current SEI students?
The possibilities of events are endless. Take every opportunity to reach out to others, sharing ideas and asking their advice. Reach out to Instructors, encourage them to challenge you. The responses you will get are incredible and will help you become the best Event Planner you can be.