Event management is a vast industry, in which a wide experience can be easily gained, but not so easily narrowed down, when it comes to deciding on a specialism! Happily, despite the array of specialist options available, there are several ways to identify which steps towards a specialism might be the right route for your own career…
1) Sector or social
One of the first choices which comes up in general event management, let alone at the stage of a specialism, is deciding which main strand of event management interests you most – sector or social:
● Sector: being involved in a particular sector – for example charity, health, entertainment, education – means broadly working in events which involve the public through learning, living, working or leisure interests.
● Social: this equally broad category relates largely to those social aspects of our lives which involve life milestones, such as birthdays, weddings, christenings, anniversaries, reunions, memorials, baby showers and children’s events planning.
2) Event employment
Within both sector and social event management, event managers can then consider types of employer or types of event, to help identify whether a specialism in a particular niche would appeal.
● Event employment – as well as being experience and opportunity-led, choices in type of event employment are also led by personal choice. Options generally include:
○ Working for the corporate or private sector, such as for a large, for-profit company.
○ Working in the public sector, such as the health service or local authority;
○ Working in the charity sector, for an international, national or local charity;
○ Working for yourself, as a freelancer for event agencies or through running your own event management business.
Of course, all of these employment options offer their own specialism potential as successful event managers within any of these areas could become highly sought-after – for example a successful freelancer will be sought-after by agencies. Each employment type does also offer further opportunities to specialise by niche.
● Event niche – An event manager employed by a corporation could build up great experience of running team building events, conferences, marketing and product launch events, trade fairs, board meetings or education and training events and then decide to specialise in one of these particular niches, for example award ceremonies. Similarly a charity event manager could have a repertoire of event experience which includes fundraising events, awareness raising and training events, conferences, press conferences and education events, before deciding on one of these niches, such as fundraising events, as a specialism.
However, unless you’re really driven towards a particular kind of event or cause, it’s still important not to let yourself be pigeon-holed too early into a specialism, even at the stage of having a potential employer and lots of prospective event types to choose from, as another key to your potential success as a specialist is in the skills you’ll bring to the role.
3) Specialism by skill:
Coming into event management with little prior experience may mean your role-relevant skills are not yet fully developed. However, it’s possible to develop and extend these, plus a range of transferable skills, by taking an event management qualification which will also help widen your experience, and therefore potential choice for a specialism. This could be a broad specialist area, such as working in budget management or technology, or could very specific, for instance as using social media and the internet for event promotion.
Transferring into event management from other career paths can also influence the type of event role that could offer you the most rewards and potential as a specialism, due to the skills you bring to the new role. For example, coming into event management from a safety compliance background could mean that you have plenty to offer in the very important specialist area of event risk assessment for event management, whilst a previous catering career skills could support a specialism in managing catering budgets and food hygiene / handling when organising pop-up food events.
Of course, previous roles and experience do not have to pre-determine any potential specialism as closely as this, but may support you in establishing yourself whilst you make your decisions about specialism. So, a previous role in veterinary or animal care could make you a natural choice in animal event management; a move from nursing could see you sought-after in healthcare event; moving from corporate business could mean a successful transition into sales and marketing events; whilst moving from teaching means a relevant repertoire of skills for education and training events.
Starting to specialise
To support a later specialism, at the very start of a move into event management, the qualification stage, choose a qualification route which offers involvement in both sector and social events and then within as many of the different types of event as possible.
This approach will not only allow you to build the broad skillset which is vital for any kind of event management, it will also help you to identify any potential strengths or gaps in training which could be explored as part of a move to specialise. It is also advisable to:
● Focus on transferable skills to underpin success as well as specialism, such as administrative, communication and IT skills.
● Continue your events qualification by taking short courses to keep your skills up to date and relevant.
● Read and gather information about possible areas for specialism – this will not only help with your own decision making but will also help to keep you informed about the latest innovations and developments in your chosen area. This will again inform your choice of short courses to keep your skills relevant as you move into your specialist area.
● Identify small-scale opportunities to try out a specialism – maybe by standing in for a colleague from another sector, by volunteering at a pop-up event in a niche you want to build skills in, or by organising a local event for a national charity campaign such as Comic Relief, Children in Need or Race For Life.
● Volunteering at specific types of events to help you identify or eliminate these are possible areas for you to specialise in.
Finally, if you don’t feel that any of the above ideas will bring you any closer to choosing your event management specialism, remember that creating a portfolio and documenting your career from the get-go will give you the chance to identify exactly where your successes and best potential for future success and specialism lie. Learn more about choosing an event management specialism on eventcourse.
Written by Justine KaneJustine 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