People decide on a career switch for many reasons, but one of the risks is that you’ll end up swapping a role you’re bored with, for a role you’re not suited to! Rather than run that risk, it’s better to start identifying whether you’ve got what it takes to become an event organiser before making the switch …
Train to gain
Taking training (even before you’ve quit your old job or started applying for new ones) can be a useful way to find out exactly what a career in event organisation involves. Companies such as EventCourse
offer training which will help you understand early on, for example, the difference between corporate and commercial event management and show you what’s best practice in each.
Such training is not only incredibly useful in helping you to decide if a career in event management is for you, but can also help you to identify whether you have a natural aptitude or particular interest in a specialist area. Having ideas about this before you start applying for event organiser roles will increase your chances of success at interview, give you a wider experience to talk about and certainly maximise your chances of finding the right role sooner, rather than later.
Tone up your skills
An event manager is a multi-talented person, with skills in marketing, project management, administration and organisation and of course communication. Although some other careers require similar skills, there are few which could demand all of these skills in play in the course of a day. There are two things you can do to help identify how skills shape up for this new role:
1. Review all aspects of your current job description and daily role to identify your practical, transferable skills. For example, your current role might seem unrelated, as it involves cold-calling but essentially this means you can offer a high degree of skills in verbal communication, sales, marketing and negotiation, so scrutinise your skills closely.
2. Undertaking a SWOT analysis of your skills, qualifications and work experience to date will help you to identify the skills which are:
- Strengths – essentials to the role which you have in abundance.
- Weaknesses – essential skills which you haven’t yet had the opportunity to gain significantly, put into practice or are unable to offer suitable evidence of being able to do.
- Opportunities – skills you might currently have the opportunity to build, for example in by undertaking marketing tasks in your current role, to increase your skills in that area.
- Threats – things which undermine your quest to build the right skills, for example you only ever work with virtual or corporate clients at the moment and you need to be able to demonstrate working with a wider client group.
Once you’ve identified the weaknesses and threats to your skills building, it’s time to work out how to improve those situations, perhaps by incorporating some of those skills into your current role, or by undertaking specific event management training.
Earn some experience
Taking on an event management role, even in a voluntary capacity for a friend or family member, can offer you experience and insight into what’s required from the role as a professional – and whether it’s something you are good at or have the right temperament and skills for. Any number of family or social events, such as birthdays, weddings, reunions or coming-of-age celebrations could offer an ideal opportunity to earn some experience in:
- The practicalities of organisation;
- Budgeting and negotiation;
- Organising permits and services;
- Collaboration, co-ordination and communication – with those using your services and those service providers involved in delivering aspects of the event.
Trying out all aspects of the role and seeing what you can offer, identifying what the gaps are in your experience and then plugging those gaps with (paid or unpaid) event management projects will go a long way not only in informing you as to whether a job in events management is likely to work out, but also shows potential employers in the field your passion as well as helps you to develop a portfolio of successes.
Everything suggested so far, from training to the gaining of informal (or even more formal) experience will help you to start to make the switch into events management. Working with an events management training company will help you to gain essential industry contacts, whilst providing services to family and friends will start to put you in contact with service providers such as caterers, venues and media companies.
Through this early network of industry contacts you’ll soon begin to identify companies you might like to work for, such as local hotels, conference centres or large corporations. Alternatively, you might not wish to work in a venue-specific or event specific role (such as a hotel events manager or education and training events manager), you may wish instead to work for one of the many event companies in the UK. The numbers of these are increasing, with approximately 8000 in 2013, jointly employing over 550,000 people to plan and co-ordinate every possible kind of event.
If you’d like to work for one of these larger companies, organising your career development plan to include evidence of formal training, a portfolio of successful events and demonstration of your creative ideas in event management is another way of affirming your commitment to your new career, all of which will boost your confidence in your career change and you abilities as an brand new event organiser.
This is a guest post, with content provided by Alex Murray, community coordinator for EventCourse. EventCourse, as part of Ashdown Academy, runs a range of powerful, enjoyable and effective event management training courses.