Is it still acceptable to ‘fall’ into the events industry, or is there a need for academic study?
Whilst studying Business and Events Management at UWE, several events industry professionals delivered guest lectures. Although these conversations were motivating and insightful, it was disheartening when my peers and I asked ‘how did you get into events?’. More often than not the response was ‘Oh I just fell into it’ or ‘I didn’t bother going to university, I have just worked my way up’.
As you can imagine, this left us feeling quite deflated and questioning our choice to study a degree.
Now half-way through my Brightelm Internship, it feels a good time to share my experience of both academic study and practical work-experience as paths into my career as an #EventsProf.
Is a degree really worth it?
I can hands down say there are fundamental skills I possess as a direct result of studying at university, that contributed to where I am now.
I am self-reliant and independent; no longer relying on constant reassurance that I needed or that I was used to when I was studying at school and college. I used to cringe when we were left to work on team projects and present with people we had never met. By the end of my degree this was something I excelled at and have a new-found confidence in. I am now equally happy and productive working as part of a team as I am independently.
I am comfortable working towards multiple deadlines and have strong time-management skills. This is something I self-confess to being hopeless at at the beginning of my degree and it is a tough lesson to learn.
I can imagine what you are thinking; ‘none of those skills come from studying Events in particular, and instead are just because of going to university’. In a way, yes, that is true. Does that mean events as a subject is pointless? Definitely not.
I feel Events has a place now and in the future as a subject in its own right. Modules within my degree were all essential in preparing me to embark on my journey as an #EventsProf.
Specialised Event Practice, Staging and Evaluating events, Corporate Events, Integrated Marketing Communications, Managing People, Planning and Managing events to name a few.
The combination of both Business and Event studies was an integral part of my decision when choosing which course was right for me. The skills and knowledge the ‘Business’ element of my degree offered me has ensured the skills I have gained from university are adaptable in all elements of the events industry.
Having a degree does not mean your career in events is going to be off to a flying start. I can speak for myself that when I finished university I had this feeling of ‘now what?’, with a lack of connections in the events industry and a bank of theoretical knowledge that I was unsure of how to put into practice.
“You only really learn how to drive when you have passed your test”
We have all heard that saying right? But it really is true. The same goes for graduating with an Events Management degree into the Events industry.
Having only been with Brightelm for 4 short weeks, I can honestly say the experience has been invaluable to me. I have had the opportunity to network with professionals in the field and I have made so many new connections.
I am getting hands on work experience and I can apply the theory and knowledge I gained throughout my degree in practice. My understanding around communication within the industry has developed and I have been able to develop and refine my skills.
Would I have gained so much within 4 weeks without the prior knowledge gained from university? I don’t think so. The experience would have been very different and would have required a lot of ‘hand-holding’ and walking me through things from my colleague’s behalf.
Personally, I do not feel this is an either-or option, and instead both routes go hand-in-hand. I wouldn’t have been able to secure my internship without the knowledge I gained from University, but equally, graduating into industry without any work-experience would also have been a challenge.
Advice to Event students
- Don’t let anyone tell you an Events Management degree is pointless; prove them wrong.
- Seek work-experience, whether that is in the form of an internship or placement year.
- Be open to short internships – it is not always affordable or manageable to accept a 1 month+ unpaid internship. However, even after 2-4 weeks I feel I have taken away so much.
Advice to employers
- Offer paid internships if you can. Funding is often available for interns from universities which will allow so many more graduates the chance to consider applying
- Taking on a graduate as an Intern will bring vital, up to date and relevant skills into your organisation.
Recruiting Interns offer employers the opportunity to talent spot future leaders.
- There will be suitable candidates who do not have an events specific degree. Consider putting these recruits through events specific vocational training, e.g. The Event Training Company as academic study and work-experience go hand in hand
Author Bio: Tara Hingston
Tara is an Event Management Intern at Brightelm and alumni of the University of the West of England. After recently graduating with a degree in Business and Events Management, Tara is feeling fortunate to have secured an Internship position to kick-start her career as an #EventsProf and excited for what the future holds.