Blog: How to make your event degree count

Rachel Ley, founder of agency RLC and part-time lecturer in event management, extends a welcome from the coalface to the new intake of event undergraduates.

Rachel Ley urges event management students to create a vision of themselves in five years’ time
Rachel Ley urges event management students to create a vision of themselves in five years’ time

I’m not one to spout motivational quotes, but this one, by speaker and author Zig Ziglar stopped me in my tracks today: "There is no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs." His words couldn’t be more apt for anyone starting out in the event industry.

You may have chosen an event degree because you dream of producing music festivals, or product launches or parties, but you won’t yet know what it takes to bring them to life: on-time, on-budget and on-message. Which of course is what you will learn over the coming months. Or some of it.

What you may not be taught, because this rarely forms part of any course module, is that a significant factor in your own career success is the personal attributes and attitude that you bring to your work.  

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in this business is the massive reliance on teamwork, and the willingness of everyone involved to do whatever it takes to produce a seamless and spectacular event. Which could mean anything from cleaning a portaloo, or entertaining tired and hungry airline passengers, to racing off into the African bush to rescue a trailer full of kit that has got stuck in the mud. None of which will have featured in your job description!

So while you’re focusing over the coming months on what you want to be when you graduate, spare some thought for who you’d like to be as well.  

Create a vision of yourself in five years’ time. And this doesn’t only mean the type of company you’d like to work in, or the kind of events you hope to be involved with. It also means the qualities that you’ll be bringing to the party, product launch or festival. Because here’s the rub: future employers will hire you as much for your enthusiasm, humility and integrity as for your qualifications. And those attributes can’t be picked up from a course module.

You can start right now - by building up an understanding of what will ultimately be expected of you. If you follow the event industry media, you’ll not only learn about the dynamics of your chosen sector, but get to read the stories of successful industry figures. Take note of the hard-work and valuable lessons that shaped their career paths. And discover too, the immense affection and respect they show for the teams they work with. It’s a people business.

There has never been a more exciting time to embark on a career in events. Live experiences influence audience behaviours more than any other marketing discipline and technology is enabling us to create shows and celebrations of epic proportions. The good news, then, is that you’ll be joining a growth industry. The bad news is that since event management has become one of the most popular career choices, there will continue to be more graduate applicants than available jobs.

So in welcoming you to this vibrant, friendly, rewarding business, let me urge you to begin the process of becoming the event professional you hope to become – now, this minute.  Every single day of your course you’ll have the choice  – either to turn up for lectures late, bleary-eyed and distracted, or to hungrily absorb every insight, every case study, every personal profile you can find. Because when you ultimately embark on your first job interviews, the choices you made today and tomorrow will have set you on a path to becoming either a rising star… or an also-ran.  

Good luck!

For careers advice and insight into internships and jobs in the event management industry, check out our Student Hub.

More: Me and my internship: Olivia Hardy, FreemanXP

Rachel Ley is founder and managing director of agency RLC, as well as a part-time lecturer in event management. 

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