Blog: Looking for experience?

ILEA UK president Alistair Turner responds to findings from the recent Student Insights report, which highlighted challenges including a lack of available jobs at entry-level.

See the full spectrum of the events industry and engage with it
See the full spectrum of the events industry and engage with it

The ILEA UK University Tour commences again this month, and we already have dates in the diary to talk to students in Bournemouth, Northampton and London, with more to be confirmed. It’s something we believe passionately in supporting, more and more we are seeing event management students engaging with our membership, getting new opportunities and even work experience and ultimately...work.

I’d encourage everyone we speak to to join up as a member of ILEA UK - we want students in our community, we value you, to the extent that we make membership a lot more affordable and try and help you get the most out of being an ILEA member.

With this in mind we did some research to understand how students perceive the industry they are about to enter and also their concerns. You can have a look at the findings of this research in the Student Hub but there were some areas we’re keen to address.

The biggest concern was the lack of opportunity for work experience, and we guess, the future inference for opportunity in work. This is important; ask any #eventprof looking to hire and they will tell you the importance of on the ground experience, therefore as students you are right to seek these opportunities and raise the alarm if you can’t find them.

So, a few words of advice. Firstly, one of the things we always encourage students to do is to see the full spectrum of the events industry and to engage with every part of it. There are the obvious businesses like event or experience agencies, and working directly with an event organisation within the sporting, musical or festival worlds. Let’s be honest though, this is where everyone is looking and the larger organisations will be able to take their pick, they are inundated. Our advice here is not to ignore them: get your hat in the ring but also spread your bets.

Secondly, look at the people these companies work with, their supply chain. Obvious choices are venues, production agencies, caterers or staffing. There are some brilliant companies like this within the ILEA membership and they are all really good with offering student work experience - they welcome the support and they want to give something back.

This is front line event management and organisation. You will often find that although you’re not working directly for the event management company, through the supply chain you’re having more of a direct experience with the event. Think wide and long about this one, there are loads of organisations you may not have even considered, from destination management or marketing companies to venue finding agencies. This could widen your experience pool extensively but also give you a different perspective.

If you want to go into a more niche area of the industry think about the vertical sectors; marketing, PR and communications. These are all industries that integrate into our own and again can give you a new perspective. Think about music promotion, sports marketing and sponsorship, brand marketing, even customer service or training.

This is a broad industry that works across many other industries from pharma and medical to soft drinks and automotive. Spread the search broadly, you may find more opportunities than you think and be able to pick up a unique work experience.

Good luck. This isn’t easy, but as with everything a little creative thinking can often make the difference. 

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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