Event management skills and how to get them: work experience and extracurriculars to boost your CV

Katie Thomas, events delivery manager at Group GTI, explains how to ensure your non-academic experiences impress recruiters in the events industry.

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Events and marketing tend to go hand in hand; employers will be impressed by candidates who show aptitude in both.

‘Often, your experience makes more of an impression on events recruiters than your degree subject, university or grade,’ says Katie. This is because it is a very hands-on industry in which soft skills, such as time management and customer service, are vital. These are best demonstrated on the job.

So, read on to discover the opportunities you should take advantage of, alongside guidance on the skills you should look to develop and demonstrate throughout your experience – ready to showcase during recruitment.

Events-specific work experience

There are a few internships for roles in events, such as event management. These will typically give you an insight into the different responsibilities involved in organising and putting on events, along with the chance to work alongside different teams and communicate with clients. It’s a good idea to combine applications for the limited number of advertised opportunities with speculative applications to bolster your chances of securing relevant work experience.

Many events management degrees include a placement, which your university should help to organise and will make an effective addition to your CV.

Extracurricular activities

‘When I look over candidates’ CVs today, I’m often impressed by those who have made the effort to manage events for their university society, sports club or other hobby,’ observes Katie. You don’t need to be the only person organising or setting up an event, but you should be able to comment on two or three solid contributions you made (eg suggesting a venue, contacting performers or taking control of promotion). Reflect on the industry-related skills you developed, ready to discuss during the recruitment process.

Don’t miss out on a chance to showcase your event planning expertise because you’re not sure whether an event with friends or family will be taken seriously by recruiters – whether it’s a surprise party, a wedding or a mini festival, anything that highlights your potential will be looked upon favourably.

Volunteering

Voluntary work in events can be a great way to demonstrate your understanding of what’s involved in the management of an event, at the same time as getting an employer (such as a charity or political party) and/or established event (such as a festival or theatre production) on your CV.

Whether you’re handing out leaflets or you have a place on the organising team, it will give you an idea of the processes and tasks involved and help you to develop some of the relevant skills. You may even be able to use one experience as a springboard for gaining greater responsibility when the next event comes around.

Other related work experience

Katie highlights the benefit of part-time customer-facing work in the hospitality industry, such as working in a bar or a hotel. Not only would this kind of experience showcase your familiarity with certain venues but it would demonstrate relevant skills such as customer service, collaboration and communication.

No matter how directly or indirectly the work experience you gain is linked to the events industry, take time for self-reflection afterwards to identify the industry-related skills it has helped you to develop. You can then emphasise these when describing the experience on CVs and applications, and during interviews.

As well as the aforementioned customer service, communication and collaboration skills, roles across the events industry require:

  • organisation
  • time management
  • problem solving
  • creativity
  • multitasking
  • resilience when under pressure
  • IT literacy
  • the ability to reflect and consider ways to improve.

The trick: mix up your experience

If you know exactly the kind of events you’re hoping to work in, it’s a good idea to focus your experience on these. Alternatively, taking up a few different types of work experience might put you in the best position if you’re uncertain.

'I didn’t have work experience relevant to many of the roles I was interested in when I finished university,' reflects Katie. 'In hindsight, my early career would have benefitted if I’d have taken on a few different opportunities.’

This doesn’t mean taking on 20 different events at once. At different points throughout your time at university, for example, you might carry out a placement at a football stadium, spend spare time organising gigs for your university’s music magazine and help out with planning a friend’s wedding during a summer holiday.

Even if you’re sure of the kinds of events you want to work in, it’s a good idea to combine experience in:

  • Promotion and organisation. Getting ‘hands-on’ experience in planning and setting up an event will look great on your CV. However, events and marketing tend to go hand in hand; employers will be impressed by candidates who can give examples to show aptitude in both. This could be as simple as putting together a poster or Instagram post.
  • Online and in person. ‘The pandemic is leading many companies to consider a long-term switch to a hybrid approach, creating both online and in-person events,’ suggests Katie. Extracurricular activities or hobbies could provide the perfect opportunities to try your hand at both – you might set up an informative webinar online and an in-person fundraiser, for instance.
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