Worried that your lack of a degree may act as a barrier to a career in events? Worry no more…
We caught up with Cat Goulbourne from Eventa, who proved with a combination of research, hard work and dedication, that you too can find an opportunity in the industry – with or without a degree. Here’s what she had to say:
The Big Interview
When I tell my friends that I work in the events industry they all roll their eyes at me: they have grand visions of me visiting exclusive roof gardens, sipping champagne from flutes and nibbling on decadent canapés all day. Whilst that may be true some of the time, other times it’s all about juggling deadlines, managing projects and maintaining professional relationships – much like any other job really. However when I tell strangers that I landed my current events job through hard work and determination without the help of a degree (let alone an events degree) most people are surprised.
So, whether you’ve just hopped onto the career ladder and are hoping to get into the events industry, or you’re currently employed but fancy a career change into the events industry, this article will hopefully be of use. I’m going to share with you my five tried & tested, degree-free tips on getting into the events industry.
1. Do your research
Without a doubt the events industry is a fun one that’s dynamic and people focused. It’s an industry that is all about organisation, maintaining good relationships and being proactive. It’s also an industry that tests your ability to think and solve issues creatively and be up-to-date on industry news. Meaning that before you start applying for jobs left, right and centre, I recommend you do some reading first.
Regularly check the Event magazine website as it’s considered to be the leading publication in the UK events industry. I also suggest you read the blogs of the event companies you like, and keep an eye out for books from famous figures in the industry. When you get an interview, mention that you have read these books/websites/blogs.
2. Target the right events company for you
The events industry is a vast and ever changing landscape, so if you plan to make your mark then you need to know where to aim for. There are so many different types of events: corporate events, weddings, music festivals, charity, press launches, conferences, industry expos…
Most people seem to forget this when applying for jobs, but you need to remember that most event companies/agencies will only specialise in certain types of events. So make sure you target the right company for the type of events you’re interested in. I recommend checking online recruitment sites and industry websites for job openings.
3. Utilise Social Media
Ignoring social media would be incredibly unwise if you plan to get into events, as so many key figures in the industry have an online presence. Create professional accounts and start following relevant people to see when they share job openings and announce exciting developments.
When this happens, engage with them – tweet them back, share their blog posts, comment on their articles. Ensure that your tweets/comments are relevant, insightful and complimentary – this will get their attention. After some time (and once you’ve developed a professional online relationship), be brave and ask them if they know of any job openings or whether they have any tips for you. If you’ve shown enthusiasm and dedication then you may be surprised how willing people are to help.
4. Volunteer or Intern
Of course this depends on your current situation, but if you can intern and/or you don’t have a relevant degree then I recommend you do this: it’s where I first started. However, if you can’t afford to quit your full-time job and intern, then I suggest volunteering to help at various events in your spare time. Having hands on event managing experience will differentiate you from others – even if it’s only helping at a local event. Plus it shows commitment and a positive attitude.
If you do this, ask if someone at the event is happy to provide and act as a reference for you – this will help bolster your CV when it comes to applying for events jobs. Also remember that there are a range of jobs in the events industry to suit your skills – accountants/sales people/marketing staff etc.
5. Final bit of advice
Obviously do all the usual prep like tailor your CV to the role, write an exceptional cover letter. When you get an interview, ensure you’re confident, friendly and polite. I know that’s not ground breaking advice but they are the traits that people in this industry look for.
During your interview try and include any ideas you have that would help elevate their company. Whether that’s creating and taking in a mood board for a potential party idea you have, or suggesting services/suppliers that they may like or could use for future events. After all, event agencies are always particularly impressed when an interview candidate shows initiative and interest in the company’s development as well as their own.
Cat Goulbourne is a former events intern who is now the Online Marketing Editor for Eventa.co.uk, one of the UK’s fastest growing events companies according The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track.
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