Plan Your Perfect Career: Careers in Event Planning

Gaining in popularity over the last few years, event planning is a hot career track for many students. How do you break into the field? What exactly does an event planner do? Is it the right career for you? Let’s take a look.

Event Planning Is NOT Party Planning

Event planners work with special events of all kinds. Some events are social and some are business-focused, while others fall somewhere in between: Celebrations (ex. weddings), Education (ex. conferences), Promotions (ex. fashion shows), and Commemorations (ex. memorials).

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But being the event planner for any special occasion is far from just planning a good party. Some of the responsibilities that fall to an event planner are:

  • Conducting research
  • Finding a site and arranging for food, decor, and entertainment
  • Sending invitations and arranging for necessary accommodations
  • Hiring employees to work the event as well as coordinating and supervising their activities

As you can imagine, being the event planner for a huge, national convention would require a lot of work and thousands of tiny details. A small wedding, on the other hand, might not be as overwhelming. However, event planners often work with very personal events – weddings, anniversary parties, memorials – that require a sensitivity to the emotions of the clients involved.

What Makes a Good Event Planner?

As with any field, certain skills and qualities are necessary and/or desired. Event planners should:

  • Have strong organizational skills and possess excellent attention to detail.
  • Be confident, flexible, and hardy. Planners are in charge of entire events, and things can go wrong. One must be ready for last-minute changes.
  • Be able to make decisions, immediately at times.
  • Have superior communication skills. Planners are working with vendors, staff, and their clients. Sending and receiving the correct messages is integral to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Tact is also important. Sometimes event planners have to break bad news to their clients.
  • Enjoy working with people. Event planning is a very people-oriented field.
  • Possess creative talents. Events often include some element of design, so creative skills are helpful. But creative skills also help with those last-minute snafus.

How to Start Your Career as an Event Planner

Earn a degree in a related field. Some great choices are communications, public relations, marketing, and management.

Look into internships with organizations that offer events frequently. Think about convention centers and hotels/resorts. Also, consider nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits hold events and fundraisers for their causes.

Get involved with event planning on campus. Some UW-Whitewater examples include SEAL Internships, the UWW Event Planning Organization, and the Young Auditorium. And those are just a few of many great opportunities around campus.

Check out these additional resources to learn more about or to find opportunities in event planning:

Are you trying to pursue a career in event planning? What successes or struggles are you having?

This entry was posted in Majors & Careers and tagged by Laura Morrow-Jacobs. Bookmark the permalink.

About Laura Morrow-Jacobs

Laura Morrow-Jacobs, Career Consultant/Marketing Specialist with Career & Leadership Development at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, advises UW-Whitewater students pursuing internships and assists employers with UW-Whitewater intern recruitment. Laura is a firm believer in the importance of career-related work experience, having benefited from it personally. As a graduate student, she completed three internships, and she was even gaining what turned out to be career-related experience as an undergrad through three separate student leader positions. She hopes that all students pursue some form of career-related work experience before graduation. In her opinion, it is never to early to start preparing - even beginning to plan as early as freshman year! Laura loves to discuss internship search strategies with students and is excited to hear about students’ successes in their internships. UW-Whitewater students are doing amazing work! Laura has been a professional at UW-Whitewater since 2006. She has been a member of the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) and participant in the NSEE Experiential Education Academy. She is also active with the Milwaukee Area College Internship Consortium (MACIC), currently serving as Web Manager and having held leadership positions as Secretary, President-Elect, and President. Laura graduated from UW-Madison with a BA in french and political science. She received her master’s degree in counseling from UW-Whitewater.