Current job unfulfilling? Confused about your career prospects? Enthusiastic about events? If the answer to these is “yes” then a career change into event management could be just the thing to re-ignite your work-based passions; but although you have the inclination, do you have the background and the skills to make an event of it?
Education into events
Many qualifications, including those in literacy and language, mathematics and IT give you a solid foundation in the basic academic skills needed to flourish in event management. Further and higher education qualifications in both general and related subjects, such as leisure and tourism, public services, public relations, hospitality and IT, will also be relevant and welcome. Economics and accounting are also particularly suitable as the financial aspects of event management is another whole sector in itself.
Gaining qualifications in event management specifically also puts you in a good position to swap to an events career. Even if you’re still in your old role, many event management courses offer the benefits of part-time study so you can continue earning from your current day job before swapping to a career in events industry.
And how does that current (or any previous) job role fit in with preparing you for a role in events? Even if it seems an unlikely fit, it’s certainly worth looking closely at your current job role or previous career history, to see if you’ve already got some industry-relevant experience which will set you up for working in events. If, for example…
- You’ve worked in a customer-facing role then you’ll automatically have a whole set of desirable qualities for working in events, such as interpersonal and communication skills, which are absolutely essential in events management and if you have strengths in communication, then you’re likely to do well! Equally, if your previous roles have led you to conclude that you don’t like working with people, then event management will not be for you.
- You’ve had a leadership role, perhaps through being responsible for your own team, department or business, then you’ll have developed skills in team leading, people-management and task delegation, all essential elements of event management.
- Your role was in hospitality (and especially catering) then you’ll already have experience of many of the key requirements of an event manager such as flexibility, thinking on your feet and problem-solving, risk awareness, knowledge of health, hygiene and food-handling regulatory compliance.
- Any previous work related to design (including the arts, engineering and manufacturing) then you’ll already have the habitual eye for detail and the creative and problem-solving leanings which are essential in event management and could help establish you as an imaginative, innovative and efficient event planner.
- Previous roles have included working on your own initiative and to deadlines, then you’ll already have an excellent set of skills in effective time management, a key skill required by event planners as everything has to run to schedule (especially you)! If you don’t have a current role, any experience you have where you have been working to a schedule or timetable for work, study or volunteering will mean you have developed effective time management skills which could benefit you in an events career.
- You’ve worked with technology, then your skills could see you in demand in the events industry as it embraces new trends in digital delivery, electronic evaluation, and high-tech management tools and software, such as ticketing, marketing and interactive events.
It’s also possible you’re in a profession such as teaching or project management, which involve all of these types of skills.
So what else have all those previous professional contexts provided you with to additionally assist a move into event management? You’ll actually have also gained a whole set of skills known as transferable skills. These commonly underpin effective practise of many work-based tasks, projects and roles and are essentially the skills which straddle all kinds of jobs. These are likely to be the skills you are using continually at work and when studying, possibly without even realising it:
- Organisational skills – even entry-level roles such as assisting or volunteering in event management bring responsibility for organising something, so organisational skills are always in play to ensure an event is delivered on time and without problems. Organisational skills encompasses co-ordinating people, information, schedules and maintaining and collating records. Skills as an organiser are often so embedded that we just think of them as habits, but if the organisation of family and social tasks regularly falls to you because “you’re the organised one” then you’re likely to be the perfect fit for event planning.
- Flexibility – if you’ve been used to working shifts, covering for colleagues and working in a role which has meant thinking on your feet on a regular basis, then you’ll already be equipped for some of the demands that event management will make on your adaptability.
- Time management – so important, it’s mentioned in every section! When you think about transferable skills, remember too any time when you’ve also had to manage others’ use of time, as an essential element of event management is the co-ordination of all the time factors and schedules for an event, to ensure that delivery or participation is prompt and to schedule.
- Positive, problem-solving attitude – managing events can be fast-paced and incredibly stressful to all concerned, particularly for the customer or client. However, as the event planner, it’s your role to minimise the client’s stress and present a positive attitude and problem-solving response to issues arising. If you’re good at calming others in a positive (but not patronising) way and can find imaginative solutions to difficulties, then you have a good set of skills suited to the event planner profession.
- Communication skills – communication gets another mention here because the strong communication skills needed in event management aren’t limited to your ability to communicate information, it’s also about how well you can listen to others (clients, vendors, contractors) and assimilate all aspects to communicate and deliver what the client wants as an outcome of the event – a tall order which not everyone is equipped with the communication skills to deliver.
Finally, once you have identified whether you have the right skills to be an event manager, consider too whether you’ll actually enjoy using these skills every day, and even be able to inject a bit of flair as you go. This way, you’ll be sure that you not only have skills to suit a role in events, but you’re also likely to be successful in event management too. Find out more at eventcourse.
Written by Justine Kane
Justine has spent the past 5 years as Course Director for an event management training Institute, placing hundreds of graduates into roles and tutoring them through to successful qualification.