From the Experts, Your Event Career
How to Become a Corporate Event Planner in 2019 (Video)
My name is Alyssa Perna, and I’m a Corporate Event Planning course tutor for QC Event School. I also have a full-time job. I work at a global conference production company where I handle the operations and logistics in the Americas (North and South). I have probably over a decade of event experience in different roles in the industry.
Today, we’re going to talk about how to become a corporate event planner in 2019. Here’s everything we’re going to cover:
- How to develop your skills as an event manager
- How to gain practical experience
- How to look for and apply for event planning positions
- How to beat your competition to get the job
- How to prepare for and execute during the interview
You can watch the full video webinar here or read the transcript right beneath the video player!
1. How to develop your skills as an event manager
Maybe you’re in wedding planning right now, and you want a more stable paycheck. Or, perhaps you’re interested in a career in corporate events but you don’t quite have all the skills, certifications, and experience a potential employer might be looking for. Here are a few avenues you could take to develop your planning skills.
Consider corporate event planner certification courses
Certification courses provide reputable training recognized and approved by associations like ILEA, the International Live Events Association. There are tons of different training options available. You can study private event training, for example. It would mean you’re hired by a CEO to host a private dinner or plan their executive weekend meeting somewhere exotic. You could also do training in corporate events, and that’s what I teach at QC Event School. I could possibly be your tutor if you enroll in the Corporate Event Planning course!
You can do anything in corporate events. You can plan a golf outing or work for a non-profit planning a walk-and-run. Project management training would allow you to develop technical conferences or executive retreats. It’s incredible how much event planning and project management go hand in hand.
There are opportunities to specialize in public and live event training; event decor and styling training; and festivals and live events training. There are so many options to increase your value and help you gain more expertise as you explore different events.
What excites you and interest you most? You can certainly customize your experience and your training to get the bests result and make yourself stand out against the competition. When you’re looking at certification courses, do your research. It’s very important to look for courses with a certificate or designation upon graduation. Courses that are approved by associations like ILEA provide you with a certificate or designation. Select courses that are relevant to your current position or the positions you’re hoping to obtain. For example, say you’re an administrative assistant working in HR and you’re planning the holiday parties and the meetings for different departments. You’ll be able to naturally move into a planning role and become a dedicated meeting planner for that company.
Why is online event planning training ideal?
There are tons of benefits to online training. If you work full-time like I do, you’ll be able to work on your own time and receive an education while not sacrificing your income. With QC Event School, the courses don’t expire. You’ll purchase the course materials and you can work through it on your own time, at your own pace, and at your own schedule.
Why you should attend industry conferences
Attend industry conferences. There was one that I attended and spoke at this past June called IMEX. There’s one in Europe and one in the US. The event is really the crème-da-la-crème gathering of all professional event planners, audiovisual suppliers, hotels, major brands, etc. All those involved in the planning supply chain come to this event. They offer educational, live courses there and you can visit exhibitor booths and take advantage of fantastic experiences. This is an event for event planners, so you can only imagine how cool these kind of events are.
And there are tons of them out there.
Going to industry conferences will help you keep up with best practices and trends. It will help you learn new strategies from other professionals in the field. Difficulties getting started in the industry, tricks of the trade, and negotiating contracts are just some of the things I talked about at IMEX. Meanwhile, there were also multiple presentations about how to negotiate contracts. You can go and learn from other professionals, too. We can all learn from each other, network, and meet people from all across the globe at these events.
You can maximize your networking opportunity quite easily at an event like this. And at a lot of these events, you can gain continuing education credits. So when I attend a one-hour course on how to negotiate contracts, I’ll gain a credit hour.
Other learning opportunities for corporate event planners
- Watch free webinars.
- Read prominent publications, such as Meetings Today or Smart Meetings to learn industry best practices and access webinar content.
- Read industry blog content. I often read QC’s Pointers for Planners because I’m always open to learning more and believe everyone can learn from each other.
2. How to gain practical planning experience
At your current job or position, take on more event management responsibilities or project manager roles. Volunteer yourself to take on more responsibility. You can offer to plan meetings or create new office organization systems that would prove your abilities as a project manager.
For example, ask those in the office who are in charge of the company holiday party if you can help. Ask them if you could take on a small piece of the pie and work on the entertainment or decor and build your event coordinator skills naturally. Even if you’re not in the official event manager or coordinator role, your initiative will help you develop your management skills and build strategies on how to execute and lead projects.
You could also ask for an informational interview over lunch or coffee. A couple of young event professionals have taken me up on that throughout my career. If you really admire somebody’s career and you want to follow a path similar to theirs, talk to them and find out how they did it. Have them look over your resume, too.
Look for internship opportunities or even shadow somebody on the job. Some internships are unpaid with non-profits, some of them are paid, and some can be on nights and weekends. Shadow somebody who’s doing it professionally every day and getting paid to do it. See if that’s the route you want to go.
If you’re not currently employed, you could also volunteer at community or recreation centers. And, as mentioned, you could offer to plan parties for friends and family. Just make sure you keep all of your work professionally organized. If you’re doing something like a big family reunion picnic, make sure you hold onto the signed venue contracts, the menus, venue research, the event budget, and how you organize all your communications. You can then take that portfolio with you and show it to a potential employer when you go for an interview.
3. How to look for and apply for corporate event planning jobs
Start by searching for job posts that discuss event and or project management. Use keywords such as…
- conference planning
- meeting planning
- internal or external events
- event coordinator
- event associate
- event marketing specialists
- catering coordinator
- event manager/producer/director (if you have prior experience)
Pull up job search websites and seek out the descriptions that really interest you. Take a look at those descriptions and see if you’re missing any skills. Save the jobs and work on gaining those skills that they’re asking for in order to fulfill that role.
Alyssa’s own experiences
My first full-time job, I did not get hired in as an event professional. I was hired in as a customer service representative, and I worked a bit on business development. But I kept my foot in the door. I volunteered for the company’s Charitable Giving Committee. Eventually, I ended up running the committee and planned and executed fundraising events for local non-profits. By doing that and keeping up with my education, I was able to finally land that first event planning job that I always wanted.
Just remember, as you’re exploring the ideas of getting into event planning, event coordinating, and event management, there are so many opportunities in corporate event planning beyond just logistics. You can absolutely go into event marketing, event operations, event production and even sales in events, selling sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities. So it doesn’t just end with logistics and events. You can really shift and customize your career based off of your interests.
4. How to beat your competition to get the interview
Be as well informed about the job and the company’s expectations as possible. Gather insight into the culture at the company you’re applying for, and find out what their needs are. Work hard to research the organization that you’re applying to and read employee reviews to get an idea about company culture and see if you want to work for them. If you think it would be a good fit for you, try to uncover some of the challenges they’re facing.
Perfect your resume & cover letter to land that event planner job
This point is essential. When you get to the interview portion, you want to be able to show your research and your ability to succeed at the job by having a well-crafted resume and cover letter. Look through your resume and cover letter with a fine tooth comb—your spelling and grammar should be impeccable! Make sure you have a powerful intro sentence in your cover letter and your resume is clear. Each point in your resume should match the job description so far as it’s honest to your experience.
It’s rare to find somebody who perfectly fits everything a company is looking for. I’ve hired quite a few people in my roles, and I can’t say that anybody’s ever had the perfect experience for an ideal candidate. But if they’ve got just enough experience and they seem like they’re gonna be a good fit, then I feel really good potentially offering the job to them.
5. How to prepare for and execute in your interview
Now, when you receive a follow-up call to interview for a position, you absolutely need to bring copies of your resume and relevant experience (portfolio). If you have hands-on experience, bring a portfolio of events you’ve done. You could also keep communications of emails or even print out some marketing materials from the events you’ve put on. You want them to be able to see evidence of the work you’ve done and accomplished.
Practice verbally answering interview questions before the actual interview. But you should also come prepared with some solid interview questions to ask the employer. They like to see that. They want to know how engaged and interested you are in their company. That way they know that you’re passionate about it. During the interview, try to showcase key attributes that corporate event planners have in your conversation. Being organized, having people skills, having solid time management skills, being flexible, and most of all, being passionate about what you do. These attributes are essential for getting an edge up and beating your competition for high-demand event planning roles.
Did you know? At the end of every Facebook webinar, Alyssa does a live Q&A to answer viewer questions. To hear her answers yourself, you can tune in at 23.35!