Whether you’re starting out in the world of work, or looking to pivot from a job you’re tired of, getting into event management can be a lucrative and fulfilling career to turn to.
But like with any sector that requires you to have a portfolio of impressive projects behind you, knowing how to get your foot in the door can be really hard.
The good news is, everyone’s got to start somewhere, and there are lots of things you can do to open up a career in event planning – even if, say, your degree is in an unrelated field, or you never got a degree at all.
In this article, we provide six top tips for starting a career in event management when you’ve got no experience. But first…
Is event planning a hard skill?
Being a good event planner requires a range of specialised skills – many of which you might not even realise you have. As a career, event management is highly-pressurised, exciting and fast-paced. So, naturally, it’s best-suited to people with exceptional organisational prowess, and the ability to keep a cool head (although sometimes this won’t always be possible, granted).
Here are some of the general skills you’ll need if you’re going to make it as an event planner (don’t worry, while some – like being organised – are more innate personality traits, others can definitely be learnt):
Tips for starting a career in event management with no experience
Consider doing an educational course
There are tons of really valuable educational courses out there that can help you to get into event planning – varying from level 3 foundation courses to post-graduate degrees. So even if you’ve already studied your main degree, or decided against going to university, there are educational routes you can follow to open doors in the event planning world.
Whichever level is right for you, studying in the leisure, hospitality, business management and event planning sectors can go a long way towards kick-starting your event management career.
Do a recce of your work experience and transferable skills
If you’ve followed a certain career path that you’re keen to get off, there’s a good chance you’ve acquired some skills that could be transferred to event planning.
For example, if you’re in marketing, you might find that you’re actually qualified to interview for a marketing role at an events company. The same goes if you’ve been working in accounts, branding, HR or something else. Events management companies need all kinds of people to operate, so you don’t necessarily need to have a background in events to get your foot in the door at one.
Hone in on your creativity
Lots of event planners start out by simply pursuing a creative passion – like music, art or interior design. Being naturally creative is an extremely desirable personality trait in the event planning world. So if you feel that’s where your true offering lies, be sure to make the absolute most of it.
That might involve setting up an Instagram account to show off your creative interior design skills. Or it could mean enlisting the help of friends and contacts in your local music scene to create a podcast or run a live Zoom event. Embracing creative endeavours like these can go a long way towards opening doors and getting your name out there.
Get involved with volunteering
There are plenty of ways to start adding to an event planning portfolio prior to actually being hired as an event planner. Volunteering for charity events can be a great way to start learning the ropes, for example. Doing so means you’ll be able to get familiar with everything from venue hire through to legal considerations like public safety liability and risk assessment. Or, if you know you’ve got a lot of creativity that could be put to good use, you could ask to get involved with a close friend or family-member’s wedding to really show off your vision and flair.
If you live in a city, there’s a good chance your local corporate venues, museums, hotels and exhibition halls are on the look-out for event volunteers too.
Create a professional website that encapsulates your brand
Creating a website for your event planning endeavour is one relatively easy way to make things feel more official. It’ll also give you a ‘shop front’ – a central hub where people can get a feel for who you are, and what you can offer. Treat it like an extension of your CV, with plenty of imagery of any creative work you’ve done, testimonials from those you’ve volunteered for, and any other relevant information about your unique story and vision.
Actively build industry connections
Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to build meaningful industry connections. Actively seeking out professionals in the field you’re interested in can be an invaluable step towards discovering new routes of entry into the event planning world. You never know what collaborative opportunities might come up when you start speaking with those that inspire you.
Getting into any career can feel daunting when you’ve yet to gain experience – but all it takes is one spark of inspiration, a great volunteer opportunity, or even just a meaningful chat with an industry pro to get the ball rolling. Ready?