Experience has more weight than a degree when it comes to becoming an event planner. When becoming a certified event planner, you are often required to have 3-5 years of experience whether or not you have a degree in communications, public relations, hospitality, or another related field. So the big question is, how can someone gain experience in event planning if they haven’t become an event planner?
Here are a few ideas to get some event planning experience:
Volunteering at local charity events can give you great experience and give something back to your community at the same time. Filling all the various roles of what it takes for an event to be successful can give you an advantage to knowing how events work on every detailed level. Going to local event planning meetings, such as an outdoor market event/festival or an annual youth event, can put you in the right place to find out how attendees find out about events, what hoops may exist for you to jump through when it comes to city ordinances and understanding first-hand how teamwork makes it all possible. As you grow your experience with volunteer work, you may even make connections to local businesses or non-profits to set yourself up with a paid gig in the future.
Are you a student? Look for those special internships with companies or organizations that are involved with event planning, public relations, or other marketing-related fields.
- Start from the bottom
Apply for an entry-level job with a large company that does event planning or a company that has a marketing department that does event planning. This is a great way to gain experience on the job by both being involved in the event planning process and job shadowing those who have been doing it a while.
- Start small
No amount of experience is too small or insignificant. Plan your nephew’s birthday party, offer to throw your grandparents that 50th wedding anniversary party. Learn first-hand what it takes to call venues and vendors, work with family and friends on all the details to make the event extra special.
According to eventmanagmentblog.com there are 5 desirable skills that businesses look for when hiring event planners.
Here is a list of skills that any event planner needs to have in their toolkit:
- Social Media & Digital Marketing
Social Media and digital marketing skills help you to find your audience of attendees. Using the help of social media influencers can help boost attendance to your planned events. Find the right influencer for your market by following top influencers in the industry that you are planning events for.
- Project Management
Project management skills are essential to making sure your events run smoothly and efficiently. Guests will notice if something is overlooked and they will point it out to everyone. Making sure all of your logistical endeavors go well has to do with your project management skills. The better you are at project management the less stressful your job will be. When you become stressed your staff knows, preparation will cut down on perspiration, never let your staff or your guests see you sweat.
- Public Relations
Public relation skills help you communicate with a wide range of audiences. Having connections in media can help get the word out about your event and knowing how to relay your talking points about the event will give your audience a clear message.
- Data Analysis
Data Analysis helps the event planner know measurables that are indicators to companies. Collecting that data in creative ways can be very helpful to the entity putting on the event as much as it is to you as a planner.
Fundraising is a great skill for events because cross-promotions, in-kind sponsorships and sponsor event partnerships are the biggest focus for managing attendee experience. Businesses want to engage with their customers wherever they are and if the partnership makes sense to a particular industry the ROI (Return on Investment) is a measurable success.
- Get Certified
Getting an online certification to add to your resume will give you a leg up on the competition and stay up to date on everything new, including software suggestions and other event planning resources and industry connections.
I would add that knowing how to take advantage of available event management software will give you an added edge over the competition. Managing an event can be a stressful job. When it comes to software it has to be easy to use for you and your attendees, so that you can focus on more important aspects of the events you are planning. Using LocalHop to plan events will help sell tickets, promote your event in Community Calendars and through the LocalHop App. LocalHop is very user-friendly and has great customer service. The LocalHop website gives tips to getting the most useful data from your attendees who register for events. Managing ticket sales, promotions and registration can be very time consuming, so when it comes to those tasks, I let LocalHop do all the work.
After you’ve worked your way through your experience and gained your skills as an event planner, it’s time to consider a certificate in event planning. Whether you have a degree in a hospitality/event management field or not, getting your certification is essential to gaining an edge of the job market. Joining a related industry trade association can give you the networking skills needed to further your career and break into your field with confidence.