So you’re looking to break into the world of event planning. You’re organized, love to bring people together and have excellent attention to detail. Welcome! We’re happy to have you in our industry. Now that you’ve figured that out, how do you get started? Perhaps you’ve taken some Event Planning courses like the ones offered through MTEC, or maybe you have similar skills and are looking to transition.
One of the easiest things you can do to gain experience and get your feet wet is through volunteering.
Here are four reasons why you should volunteer as an up and coming event planner:
1. Real life experience
No matter what area of event planning you are looking to go into, there are key experiences that are essential: working with committees, working with volunteers, and working with clients/venues. In fact, you will often see these skills listed in job postings. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to do all of these things. Don't have any experience working with committees? Easy! Join one!
2. Builds your network
No matter how cliché it is to say, when it comes to getting that first job, it’s all in who you know. However, if you don’t have a lot of connections in the event planning field, you need to reach out and make as many as you can. You can do that by joining a professional association like Event Professionals of Manitoba (hi!) and by volunteering at events. At any given event, even just as a night-of volunteer, you will meet the event coordinator, their coworkers and their volunteer committees in addition to your fellow volunteers. Boom! In one night, you’ve expanded your network by 5-10 people.
Once you’ve volunteered a few times (or a few months on a committee), you’re able to use these connections as a job reference. Don’t forget to add these new connections to LinkedIn. Yes, prospective employers and recruiters check out your page.
It can be tough to get that first new role when you’re switching career paths or just starting out. We can guarantee you that everyone hiring anyone in the event planning field is looking for someone with initiative. Everyone says they have initiative but how do you actually prove it?
“I really want to work in events with a focus on fundraising. This year, I volunteered on the ABC Walk-a-thon logistics committee where I organized a team of day-of volunteers and created site maps.”
4.Expands your knowledge
Some things cannot be taught in a classroom or found on google. No matter how fantastic your education is, nothing can prepare you for the actual day-to-day life of an event planner. For example, you’re never going to take a course that will teach you where to rent a goat (yes, that’s a real life example) or how many people can legally occupy a parkade. That information comes with time and experience. With every event you volunteer at or attend, you become exposed to new ideas and techniques that will inspire and inform your future role.
Ok so now you’re ready to volunteer. Where do you go? There are so many options!
1. Checkout Volunteer Manitoba to find a list of current volunteer opportunities
2. Join a Professional Association or a committee (yes, we’re looking for volunteers too!)
3. Contact the organizer of events you want to check out
4. Google, google, google
5. Ask your friends. It’s always comes down to your network.
What are some of your volunteer success stories? Let us know!