This guest blog by Jennifer Davidson, BU graduate and Founder and Managing Director at Sleek, provides advice on getting started in event management.
Starting your events career is an exciting time for all graduates; getting the opportunity to step away from the classroom and put everything you have learnt into practice.
The past two years (2020 and 2021) saw mass change in the events industry. The Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), whose members include tourism agency VisitBritain and the Events Industry Alliance, reported a 95% drop of in-person events and a 17% reduction in the size of the sector which resulted in the loss of approximately 126,000 jobs.
What does this mean for event grads starting their careers? Huge opportunity!
According to the Global Meetings and Events Forecast, recently produced by American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), meetings and events professionals found that two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe in-person meeting levels will return to their pre-pandemic numbers within one to two years. In-person meetings and events are projected to grow in 2022, with 81% of events expected to have an in-person element. Another indicator of industry growth is the 64% of global meetings and events professionals citing increased budgets for next year.
Having started my own events career at Bournemouth, completing a BA (Hons) Business Studies with German and Spanish to becoming the Founder and Managing Director of Sleek, I worked my way through internships to in-house and freelancing jobs, which led to me creating an agency around events that I was passionate about and which enabled me to build an environment that inspired others.
At Sleek, when we recruit graduates for an events coordinator role or internship, we look for a range of experiences in a CV, but I believe the following advice is essential to setting yourself up successfully for the beginning of your career:
Take placement opportunities
Placements are a great way to discover what you enjoy about working with different companies and finding what area of event management you are interested in.
Placements also give you the opportunity to put everything you’ve been learning in the classroom into practice. Learn from experience and from the knowledge of others who can pass on tips to help you improve your skills and gain industry best practice. Plus, a placement looks great on a CV, it demonstrates that you’re eager to learn and have taken the first steps to get involved in the industry.
Research the companies you apply for
There are so many avenues to take when considering your first job out of university. From agency to in-house, or weddings and venue management, consider what you’re looking to achieve and the direction you want to pursue when applying for different positions.
An important part of applying is not to just mass send a CV to every position that is open. Look at what different events companies do and the clients they work for, review their company values and what the available position description offers. Do these things align with your own professional goals and values? You will get so much more out of a job and a company that you are aligned with as you will be challenged and engaged to improve and develop your skill set.
Individually address your cover letters and CVs
When the time comes to send in your CV and cover letter for different positions, please do not bulk copy and paste!
When we are reviewing CVs and cover letters it is very clear to us who has taken the time to do their research into Sleek and reviewed the job description. We notice when an applicant details why they want to work for Sleek or related the job description to their own experience. Businesses acknowledge and prioritise applicants who make the time to personalise CVs.
Have questions prepared ahead of your interview
It may seem like an obvious point to make, but so many people come in for interviews only prepared to be asked the questions. Remember, it has to be the right fit for both parties. Have questions prepared around specific details of the job that may not have been addressed or enquire how the company is planning on growing.
As already mentioned, it is important to identify what matters most to you – it may be company culture, a development plan or the company’s approach to corporate social responsibility. Ask questions around your goals and values to assess if you’re the right fit for each other.
Find a mentor
Having someone to help guide you and turn to for advice at the start of your career is valuable support to have. A mentor can be someone to help you set your goals, establish career timelines and give you advice and the tools to help you get where you want to go. It gives you the opportunity to learn from someone who is a bit further ahead in their career, has been through what you’re experiencing and can identify opportunities you may not be aware of. If you’re unsure where to start when looking for a mentor, networking is a great way to start this process. Attend industry events to grow your network and find leaders that you would like to learn and develop your skill set with.
I believe that 2022 holds great opportunities for people hoping to start or progress their events careers. With the return to live events and more value than ever before put on the need for face-to-face connection, the events industry is set to thrive over the next few years.
To view the available positions for Sleek visit our careers page.