How to Start a Career in Event Planning
Event planners fall into the category of people whose jobs seem glamorous (after all, they’re throwing parties for a living) but are actually a lot more difficult than they appear. There are so many elements necessary to pull off a successful event, and the ideal planner has both the big-picture creative vision and the detail-oriented mindset to turn an idea into a reality.
Also, to be clear, planning a party is a lot different from being a guest at a party. While event-goers are sipping cocktails and chatting, you’re working behind the scenes, making sure vendors arrive, adhering to the timeline, and putting out any fires. Still, while event planning isn’t always glamorous (and you have to give up plenty of nights and weekends), it can be exciting.
No two events are alike, so you get the opportunity to get out from behind a desk, meet clients and vendors, and create memorable experiences for guests. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for event planners is growing. So if you’re passionate about the industry and up for the challenge, here are some ideas for how to get started.
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Before you go all in on an event planning career, get some practical experience to see if you actually enjoy the work. Research volunteer opportunities at nonprofits, schools, and conferences that are coming to town. No matter your role, it’s helpful to be exposed to every aspect of an event, from checking in attendees to cleaning up at the end of the night.
Explore different types of events
You might associate event planners with big, splashy celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and black-tie galas, but there are so many more options in the industry, like planning corporate meetings and conventions. Tap into your network to chat with your contacts in the industry to learn about the different roles and what they entail.
Consider taking classes
In addition to hands-on events experience, pursuing coursework or even a degree in event planning is a great way to gain knowledge of the field. As a bonus, the courses are taught by industry professionals. Not only do you learn from veteran planners but also gain them as contacts, which could help open doors for you in the future.
Experiment and explore
Unlike some careers, there’s no set path to becoming an event planner. It might seem frustrating, but it’s also liberating. You can blaze your own trail and try out lots of different roles until you find the right fit. The great thing is that any experience in the industry, like working in catering or public relations, adds to your skill set, so look at your past jobs as assets.
With that in mind, feel free to try out different roles. If corporate events aren’t for you, then maybe wedding planning is more your speed. The important thing is that you are persistent. Keep exploring, learning, and making connections — your hard work will pay off.
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