Ambassador Feature: Lauren Ballinger
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi, my name is Lauren. I live in a small, military-based town in rural New Brunswick with my husband and our beautiful, energetic twin girls. Over the last few years, I’ve dedicated the majority of my time to being a stay-at-home mother and supporting my husband, who is an active member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Now it’s time for me to take the leap and start my own dream career!
How did you get into the world of professional event and wedding planning?
I’ve always had a passion for planning! But when I planned my own wedding, I finally realized that being an event planner was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I love the idea of taking a couple’s concept and turning it into reality. My goal is to help others create their dream wedding! So, I figured, why not? From there, I started my event planning classes!
Why did you decide to pursue event planning classes online, rather than in-person?
In-person training wasn’t an option. Having a spouse who is an active military member, and frequently away from home due to training and deployments, makes finding child care difficult. I needed something that would allow me to stay at home and take care of my family. Online event planning classes allow me to acquire the education I need without any of these concerns. I’m able to pursue my career goals in a way that works best for me, my schedule, and my lifestyle.
Photo by KD-Lynn Photography.
Why did you choose to enroll in QC Event School’s event planning classes?
Once I was ready to take the next step and start researching event planning courses, QC Event School quickly proved itself to be my perfect match! QC offered the flexibility of learning at your own pace, without the added stress of having to meet specific deadlines. This worked extremely well for my already busy lifestyle.
You’ve recently joined QC’s team of Student Ambassadors. As an Ambassador, what’s the #1 reason you recommend QC’s event planning classes (and QC as a school) to other planners?
I feel the community aspect that QC has to offer is amazing! You have access to the online support staff, you get personalized feedback from your tutors, and you can join QC’s large community in the Virtual Classroom on Facebook. All of these things give you the support and motivation you need to excel in your programs. Also, QC Event School offers a large variety of courses that cover all of the different aspects there is to creating your own successful event planning business!
You’re almost finished QC’s Event & Wedding Planning Course. How has your experience in this class been so far?
This course has been amazing! It’s loaded with knowledgeable and creative reading materials, which are broken up into short texts. Because of this, I find them engaging and easy to read. The class has opened my eyes to all of the inside details and aspects that go into successful event planning that you initially might oversee.
The most important lesson I have found to be prominent so far is to always pay your closest attention to detail. Whether you’re gathering information during the client consultation, or placing the final touches on the day of the event – every detail matters!
Photo by KD-Lynn Photography.
You’re also enrolled in the Accelerate Your Business Workshop. In your opinion, why is business training an essential part of event planning classes?
I enrolled in this workshop so I could gain as much business knowledge as possible. Building a business from the ground up can be complicated and overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. Having a proper understanding of launching and running a business successfully is key. From trademarking a business name to learning how to properly market yourself, you can NEVER have too much experience when it comes to operating a thriving company!
How useful have the materials for your event planning classes been so far?
Extremely useful! All of the texts are jam-packed full of information and insight. That being said, they’re still short enough that they keep you constantly interested and inspired. Each unit goes into great detail of the behind-the-scenes work involved in pulling off a successful event. I also appreciate that the event planning classes delve into different problem solving skills you’ll need for various situations. Since there are tons of case scenario assignments, you also get a true vision of what it’ll be like to work in the real world.
Give us an example of tutor feedback you’ve received that’s helped you grow stronger as a planner!
QC’s tutors provide extensive audio feedback after each unit. I’ll be honest: at first, I was terrified to hear what my tutor, Shannon Fowler, had to say! There’s always that little voice in the back of my head that keeps going, ‘Girl, what were you thinking? There is no way you’re doing this right’!
But after I composed myself, I hit the play button… and quickly found out that I actually DID know what I was doing! Honestly, I have a hard time picking one specific example for this question. All of the feedback I’ve received has been such an amazing help. It’s boosted my confidence and has kept me going in the right direction. I’m grateful to have a tutor that gives me her honest opinions, while also praising what she likes. It’s an amazing feeling to prove yourself wrong and realize that you do have what it takes to make your dreams become a reality!
Photo by KD-Lynn Photography.
Which real-life scenario assignment has been your favorite so far?
To be honest, all of the assignments have been so enjoyable to do! But if I had to pick just one, it would be Assignment 2 in Unit A. In this particular assignment, you are asked to build an event concept centered around a 40th birthday party with a Star Wars theme. I’m not overly familiar with the Star Wars movies, so I had a great time scrolling through Pinterest and other resources; learning more about the movies and different ways to incorporate them into the event! The challenge of learning about an unfamiliar topic was presented in such a fun and thought-provoking way. It was both educational and fun!
You’re located in Oromocto – a city with less than 10,000 people. However, you’re also a short drive from Fredericton, which has a substantially larger population. How do you feel these factors will work to your advantage once you start your business?
Living in such a small town can cause some challenges when it comes to starting a business. But I also see it as a great advantage as well! In Oromocto alone, there isn’t a large amount of competition in the event planning industry. That alone can be seen as a perk. Of course, being so close to our capital city of Fredericton also has its perks, too!
Having access to a much larger city opens up more opportunities to mentor under already established businesses. Not to mention, there’s more variety of competition and potential partnerships. New Brunswick is a small province, which gives the advantage of being able to service more than one area. I don’t need to feel restricted within certain limits.
What sort of services do you want to offer clients once you’ve launched your business?
When it comes time to open my business, I want to offer it all! My main goal is to have an event planning business that gives my clients choices. Whether they want me to have full control over the planning process, construct the decor, of simply take over on the day of the event – I’ll be there to help. My main priority will be to deliver a stress-free event experience, in whatever way my clients see fit!
Photo by Julie LeBlanc Photography.
You’ve chosen to enroll in event planning classes and earn your certification during the COVID-19 pandemic. In what do you feel QC’s online learning environment has helped make it possible for you to pursue your goals during a time of social distancing?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the perfect time for me to take event planning classes. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has undoubtedly interfered with the industry in certain ways. But it’s definitely given me the advantage to study and obtain my certification in a time when the industry is a bit quieter. Being able to learn through QC’s online event planning classes, at my own pace and in my own home, has allowed me to continue pursuing my career goals while keeping my family and myself safe.
Finally: what is YOUR definition of “success” as a professional planner?
To me, as long as you love what you’re doing and feel as though you’re giving it your full potential, then that’s what it takes to be successful! It doesn’t matter how many clients you have. What matters is that YOU are happy!