Understand Your Options
Growing up, whenever I pictured a professional in the events industry, I thought of Jennifer Lopez, scurrying around, trying to bring Matthew McConaughey’s wedding to life (without falling in love first!).
Because the events world is made up of wedding planners, right?
Well, although J.Lo’s world of wedding cakes and bridal gowns is a part of this industry, weddings are simply one piece of what makes up the “event world.” Let’s take a look at our options:
Social Events vs Corporate Events
Most event professionals would categorize the events world into two main parts:
social events and corporate events
Social events, predictably, include the gatherings that bring friends and family together. These events typically include birthdays, weddings, graduation parties, bat mitzvahs, bridal showers, etc.
Corporate events, in contrast, include events that focus on company clientele. These events typically include client meetings, work training sessions, company leadership conferences, team building events, product launches, etc.
When searching for an events internship, it’s important to understand the difference between social and corporate events, as they have different attendees, budgets, timelines and goals.
Types of Event Careers
Not only do events themselves fall into one of two categories, but careers in the event world are also best understood when categorized into three main segments:
- Working for an event company
- Working for a venue
- Working for an internal events team at a non-events company
Working for an event company once again brings Jennifer Lopez to mind; clients come to you because of your expertise in the events industry, and hire you to take them through the event planning process. The main appeal of this career is the amount of variety in these roles, as you work for different types of clients, with a variety of vendors, executing a wide range of events.
Working for an event venue includes a tad more routine, because, as your client base and events change, your working environment stays the same. Working for a venue allows you to become the master of your space, and gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge of the venue with your clients, helping to create memorable events.
This final segment, while less understood, is a key part of the events industry. Some corporations place an emphasis on employee experiences, and thus have a designated employee, or even a full internal team, work to create events for a company. The unique challenge of this position is that, while the vendors and types of events may change, the event clientele continues to be the same: members of your company. Working for a traditional business blends the “Corporate America” setting with the creativity of the events world.
I have been fortunate enough to experience all three of these unique environments, and can promise that there are pros to each!
How to Find an Events Internship
Great, now I understand the wide range of options out there. But now what?
How do I find an events internship in any of these fields?
While company websites, LinkedIn and job hunting platforms such as Indeed and Glassdoor are where you should be searching, it’s just as important to know what you should be searching for.
If you’ve ever typed “event planner” into Indeed.com, you know first hand that the list of job opportunities is quite limited. You may feel discouraged and begin to think that the events world is too small to try to break into; luckily, that’s far from the truth.
Although all of my internship (and job) experiences have been in the event world, my exact title has rarely included the word “events.” This is because a wide variety of professionals work in this industry! Try expanding your searches to include these words:
- Public Relations
- Community Outreach
Because of the varying structures of businesses, combined with their differing goals and missions, not every events based job holds the same title.
But that doesn’t mean the jobs aren’t out there; it just means you need to get creative in your search.
Once you use these keywords to search for internships, take the time to read their descriptions. You may be shocked to realize that a public relations intern for a tech company is mainly tasked with creating publicity events for product launches, or that a community outreach intern for a sports team focuses on creating engaging events for the team’s biggest fans.
I personally work full time as an operations associate in the startup industry, but my work day consists of event planning for a variety of company and investor events.
Don’t let the job title rule out the opportunity.
Practice In Your Community
Although understanding what and how to search for internships is important, establishing your credibility is the key to landing the job.
But for many internship seekers, the opportunity to intern is where you gain credibility. So, how do you land the job before you’ve had any event experience?
Practice in your community.
The beauty of the events world is that it lives all around us; it doesn’t require a high tech computer, or an office job in the city, to experience it.
Use that to your advantage.
Before my first events internship, I had job experience as a law firm receptionist and a dance teacher. Not applicable jobs, right?
However, I also:
- Coordinated all elements of our family beach vacations for 7 years
- Volunteered to take over my dance studio’s birthday program, where I coordinated a plethora of birthday parties for children
- Handled the full planning of trips, free of charge, for close friends and family who were looking to travel but struggled with organization
This is where I established my credibility.
Ask your neighbor if she would like assistance planning and executing her daughter’s birthday party. Volunteer at your school to help organize spirit week. Take initiative within your family and organize this year’s holiday plans. Showcasing your drive and creativity by finding event opportunities within your community highlights your skill set in an interview better than a random job ever could.
Include Your “Why” On Your Resume
Most resumes include the basics. They state who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and when and where you’ve done so.
But they typically fail to include a very important element: why.
Why are you interested in this industry? Why are you seeking this specific job?
The hack? Include a “why” section on your resume.
It shouldn’t be overly specific, or take up too much space on the paper, but it should be a concrete statement that shows employers your driving force behind applying for this job.
For example, my resume talks about growing up as a competitive dancer, and how the adrenaline of live performances is something I seek to experience for the rest of my life. I’ve been conditioned to perform well under the pressure of live shows, and I want to use that experience to serve my clients.
Challenge yourself to question why you’re even interested in the event space, and be sure to include a sentence or two about it on your resume. It will make you stand out!
The Internship Interview
(*Note: this is part two. Part 1 covered how to find an opportunity, and part 2 covers nailing the interview)
You’ve taken our suggestions, applied to a few internships, and landed an interview.
Congratulations! But how do you ensure interview success?
Every interview guide will tell you to do your research about the company you are interviewing with. But what exactly should you be researching?
Most people tend to “research”
- The date of formation
- The business model
- The number of employees
- The history of the company
But while that knowledge is useful to have, the chances of being asked a question in the interview about any of those topics is slim.
This is because those points all talk about what the business entails, which is the most surface level information out there.
This is why a great rule of thumb is to focus on the who, why and how.
- Who is the leader of the department I’m seeking an internship in
- Why is this internship offered
- How does this position fit into the business as a whole
- Who would I be working with regularly
- Why do they produce events
- How will I be successful in this role
Questions that start with these three words challenge you to break through the surface level information and discover content that’s actually applicable to your interview and internship. Don’t stop at the surface!
Improve your Intangible Skills
The events industry is just as much about working with people as it is about performing well in your role. That’s often what entices so many of us to seek careers in this field! But because people skills are so essential to this role, modeling those skills in your interview is just as important as “knowing your stuff.”
My best advice for fine tuning your people skills is to practice your speaking ahead of the interview. Print out standard interview questions a few days prior and cut the questions into flashcards. Pick up a flashcard, read the question and practice answering it out loud. This may feel silly, speaking about your greatest strengths or leadership experiences into thin air, but, whether you realize it or not, it makes you more comfortable speaking.
Once you’ve run through this technique a few times, you will feel less nervous about answering the actual questions in the interview, which will allow more room for your personality to shine through.
Send a Thank You
Though you’ve probably heard this before, it’s amazing how many of us frequently forget about it. We’re filled with angst leading up to the interview, push through the series of questions they throw at us, and before we know it, phew! The interview is over, and we can move on with our lives.
It doesn’t feel this way on the interviewer’s side.
An interviewer will probably meet with a handful of people, all seeking the same position. They will ask the same mundane questions over and over, and probably hear similar answers throughout the day. The very nature of this interview process makes it a challenge to stand out.
That is, until you send the thank you note.
Sending a thank you, whether handwritten (ideal) or via email, not only shows the interviewer that you take the opportunity seriously, but it reminds the interviewer of who you are.
In a sea of “my name is ____ and I’m a ____ major from _____ university” statements, it’s so easy to forget which candidate is which.
You need to bring their attention back to you.
Send a thank you.