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).
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:
- Inside Jobs: Event Planner and Event Manager
- Meeting, Convention & Event Planner Job Overview (US News Best Jobs 2012)
- Big Shoes Network
- Meeting Professionals International Industry Careers
- National Association of Wedding Professional (chapters in Madison and Milwaukee)
Are you trying to pursue a career in event planning? What successes or struggles are you having?