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Training courses reflect a tough industry.

It's a hard knock life. This is an important lesson to learn when working in the events industry, which involves many tough pitches and long hours. Specialist college Event Management Training has adapted its post-graduate diploma to reflect this. Its students have to come up with a real pitch - which sees them offer exhibition feature area solutions to organiser Media 10 - and provides them with a two-month work placement.

This intense learning curve is essential as it sets students up for the events world. Course director Adam Proto's background includes founding agency Terbell. "If you have a qualification you should be qualified to do the job," he says. "I may end up working with one of our students and I don't want to be working with someone who doesn't know what they're doing."

As part of the course, students are taught skills such as understanding industry jargon and how to generate a purchase order. A major aim is to keep the industry fresh with new talent.

To showcase what they had learnt, 33 students were asked to organise a networking event on 4 February for 40 leading agency representatives, all potential employers. There was a budget of £1,500 and a one-month deadline. The students were split into groups to look after the various aspects of the event, and together came up with a London theme.

Upon arriving at the venue, Mary Ward House, guests were greeted by students and volunteers dressed in the uniforms of Buckingham Palace guards and told to state the secret password. They were also asked to activate the Bluetooth connection on their mobile phones, which allowed them to receive the students' CVs and details of the suppliers involved in the event.

In keeping with the theme, a guitarist, representing a busker, played underneath a street lamp in the corridor. Guests were ushered into an area with a stage that had a backdrop of the London Underground logo. At the front of the stage a revolving TV screen projected images of London, while other London paraphernalia in the room included a postbox and parking meter.

Proto made a speech that focused on the work experience aspect of the course, adding that the showcase was a great way to 'try before you buy' students when thinking of giving them a placement.

To enter the next event space, guests had to walk through a room that featured Arcstream's Living Image System, an interactive floor that revealed the Event Management Training logo when stepped on. The third main event space was themed as a pub, The Exhausted Student, where a saxophonist entertained guests.

A pub quiz was compered by lecturer Tim Ford, with guests using keypads provided by IML. This meant questions, answers and results could be instantly projected onto a screen.

The showcase was a great way to prepare students for the realities of working in events. One participant, Ellie Nicolaides says: "We did a good job. There were 33 of us, which is large enough to be a fully fledged event agency, albeit one without a managing director."

An invigorating thought, especially as many of the students graduating from such vocational training will be the leading lights in the industry, and hopefully keep its innovative spirit alive.


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