When work isn’t working for you, switching careers and becoming an event planner can seem like a good prospect, especially if you like working with people and enjoy extending your skills in a variety of contexts. However, like most life decisions, this career change is one which does need a little bit of thought, not least to make sure you are choosing a move into event planning for the right reasons.
The Right Move
Being an event planner can be a complex and demanding role, so ensuring it’s the right move for you means considering whether:
- You are truly ready for not just a change, but a new challenge.
- You have a suitable set of transferable skills and experience which will benefit a career in event management.
- You are ready for a second career. Even being in your 40s and beyond is ideal, as many event professionals came into the industry after successful careers in other sectors, bringing the joint benefits experience, maturity and a thorough knowledge of working with people!
- You have the potential to work freelance later on if required – many freelance event planners carve successful niches for themselves as a result of working for agencies and move into working for themselves instead of being directly employed by one company.
- Your skills lie beyond being good at administration and organisation, after all, Personal Assistants are competent in these areas but that doesn’t necessarily mean they would be successful at event management: an event manager also requires a keen eye for detail and brings considerable creativity to the role.
The Wrong Moves
Having good reasons for feeling you’d be successful in event management is one thing, but knowing the wrong reasons for seeking to make the change is also important. Common misconceptions about a role in event panning include:
- Assuming it’s an easy job – after all, you’ve planned a couple of parties! Professional event planning encompasses a myriad of tasks which amount to so much more than the actual planning. The role also includes a significant element of engaging with people and working with individuals with their own ideas (good or bad) about the event they want or how much the budget should stretch to, so managing others’ expectations is another aspect of the role which can be less than easy!
- Thinking it just looks like fun! Of course event planning is fun, but not all aspects of the role and not all the time! We all have tasks which regularly sink to the bottom of our to-do lists because we don’t really enjoy doing them and a big reality check comes when you realise that event planning means facing a daily list of tasks, some of which you don’t actually enjoy and which can certainly be less than fun. Having a lack of understanding about what’s really involved in event planning and having the wrong expectation can quickly result in disillusion and dissatisfaction.
- Seeking a job with a high salary. Although sought-after event professionals can command high salaries (especially in the corporate sector), the best paid roles are not generally accessible early on in a career in event management. Initially you may need to prove yourself within the industry, including possibly starting off in low paid position, such as an intern or apprentice in order to gain experience or manoeuvre into a position within a specific type of event management (such as in the media, festivals or arts sectors).
- After giving up an existing role due to ill-health. Working in event management means you have to be in good physical shape. The role is mentally and physically demanding and can also mean long days, especially in the last few days of bringing an event together and running it.
- Assuming that you can just walk into the job and pick it up as you go. Event management is one of the fastest growing professional sectors and it is just that – professional. There are now industry standards, codes of practice and professional guidelines so, as competition for roles is fierce in this exciting industry, having relevant training and experience is the right approach for landing a role and succeeding in it.
One last key way to avoid going wrong at the start of your career swap into event management is to not think only about the practical levels of what you can do without considering what you actually want to do. Event planning may look appealing and you may have the physical capabilities but you also need to consider whether it will offer you the emotional fulfilment you desire from your daily grind.
Thinking that you know what to expect from a career as an event manager is a sure sign that you need to find out more about the role because if ever a career meant daily doses of the unexpected, then that’s career management for you! However, you can prepare for the unexpected by researching appropriate training and volunteering opportunities, preferably before you give up your existing career.
How to Make the Change
Training will help you to identify those transferable skills which are vital to the role – including those which you already have, those which you have yet to build and those skills which are underused in your current role but will be useful in event management. Having good technology skills is a good example. It’s difficult running a good event these days if you’re not good at technology. At least understanding what technology can do for you. From simple registration systems to sophisticated event management tools. From social media and event apps to new technologies like iBeacons and augmented reality.
Whilst you are weighing up your career change, taking up opportunities to volunteer and complete on-the-job training in work placements will also give you a chance to revise your CV to reflect the core competencies you have and how these directly relate to a career in event management.
Similarly, volunteering and work experience will also allow you to build a portfolio of events you have been involved with, something which can add to your competitive edge when it comes to applying for event management roles.
Finally, to pave your way to a successful transition into becoming an event planner, be prepared to try temporary roles in different sectors, such as by taking in-house roles as opposed to working solely on agency projects: try corporate events as well as charity events, gain experience in entertainment events and compare this with planning education and training events. Being versatile to start with will help you to identify your ideal niche as well as help you to build a network of contacts for when you are ready to settle into your brand new career as an event manager.
Find out more about event management career opportunities at Eventsforce by contacting us here.