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).

National Association of Government Labor Officials Conference

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?

From the Archives: Event Planning

This post was orginially posted on Feburary 14, 2011 by Kathy Craney.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was watching a Milwaukee news program and saw an interview from the Milwaukee NARI Spring Home Improvement Show. They have over 330 exhibitors and more than 700 booth spaces as well as speakers, competitions, etc. Home improvement may not be your particular interest, but have you ever thought about what goes into planning an event and who coordinates all those people/spaces/etc? An Event Planner, also known as a Meeting or Convention Planner.

Other Titles:

  • Corporate Planner
  • Government Meeting Planner
  • Convention Services Manager
  • Conference Coordinator
  • Education Planner
  • Manager of Registration
  • Education Seminar Coordinator
  • Conference Services Director

Qualifications:

1. Many employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree:

  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
  • Business
  • Hotel or Hospitality Management

2. Experience planning meetings for a university organization or club (Also think Internships!)

3. Useful Skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communications
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Good at establishing and maintaining relationships
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Meet tight deadlines
  • Maintain composure under pressure
  • Quantitative and analytical skills
  • Computer skills
  • Speaking multiple languages may be a plus

Job Prospects: Employment of meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 16 percent over the 2008-18 decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations.  Opportunities will be best for individuals with a bachelor’s degree and some meeting planning experience.

For Further Information:

  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition Meeting and Convention Planners
  2. For information about meeting planner certification, contact: Convention Industry Council, 700 N. Fairfax St., Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314
  3. For information about the Certified Government Meeting Professional designation, contact: Society of Government Meeting Professionals, 908 King St., Lower Level, Alexandria, VA 22314
  4. For information about internships and on-campus student meeting planning organizations, contact: Professional Convention Management Association, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1001, Chicago, IL 60616-1419
  5. For information about meeting planning education, entering the profession, and career paths, contact: Meeting Professionals International, 3030 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy., Suite 1700, Dallas, TX 75234-2759
  6. Additional career information about meeting and convention planners

Event Planning

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was watching a Milwaukee news program and watched an interview from the Milwaukee NARI Spring Home Improvement Show. They have over 330 exhibitors and more than 700 booth spaces as well as speakers, competitions, etc.

Home improvement may not be your particular interest, but have you ever thought about what goes into planning an event and who coordinates all those people/spaces/etc? An event planner – also known as a meeting or convention planner.

Other Titles:

  • Corporate Planner
  • Government Meeting Planner
  • Convention Services Manager
  • Conference Coordinator
  • Education Planner
  • Manager of Registration
  • Education Seminar Coordinator
  • Conference Services Director

The core components

Qualifications:

1. Many employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
  • Business
  • Hotel or Hospitality Management

2. Experience planning meetings for a university organization or club (Also think internships!)

3. Useful Skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communications
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Good at establishing and maintaining relationships
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Meet tight deadlines
  • Maintain composure under pressure
  • Quantitative and analytical skills
  • Computer skills
  • Speaking multiple languages may be a plus

Job Prospects: Employment of meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 16 percent over the 2008-18 decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Opportunities will be best for individuals with a bachelor’s degree and some meeting planning experience.

For Further Information:

  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition Meeting and Convention Planners
  2. For information about meeting planner certification, contact: Convention Industry Council, 700 N. Fairfax St., Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314
  3. For information about the Certified Government Meeting Professional designation, contact: Society of Government Meeting Professionals, 908 King St., Lower Level, Alexandria, VA 22314
  4. For information about internships and on-campus student meeting planning organizations, contact: Professional Convention Management Association, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1001, Chicago, IL 60616-1419
  5. For information about meeting planning education, entering the profession, and career paths, contact: Meeting Professionals International, 3030 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy., Suite 1700, Dallas, TX 75234-2759
  6. Additional career information about meeting and convention planners

Photo by mpclemens.