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What it’s really like working in the events industry

By September 5, 2019 Super Mentor Academy

Glamour, busy-ness, and fun or extreme stress, spreadsheets and a neglected personal life? What’s it really like working in the events industry when you get behind the Instagram filters?

But let’s talk about the downsides of working in the events industry:

  • Long hours on your feet,
  • high stress situations where customer service is critically important 24/7,
  • making magic out of limited resources,
  • and burnout is inevitable if you don’t take good care of yourself…

But there are definitely a few upsides too:

  • it’s a creative industry, perfect for those who are natural born project managers and love meeting people
  • every week of work is something different – if you thrive on variety, this might be the industry for you.

Pros

Variety

Each day is different and often very fast-paced. There’s client and vendor meetings, venue visits, design, people management, budgeting, researching and so much more… You might not love every single aspect of your work but it’s so varied that if you’re a multi-passionate person, you’re going to thrive in the go-go-go.

This is especially great if you get bored easily or want to be able to stretch yourself and showcase different skills.

What its really like to work in the events industryMeeting people

From clients to vendors to other people in the industry, you’ll be communicating with people A LOT. If you’re anti-social and not a great communicator, let’s be real… this isn’t the industry for you.

What its really like to work in the events industryYou get to combine creativity and logistic skills

One thing I LOVE about event planning is that I get to showcase different talents. One of my proudest ever work achievements was designing the PERFECT work rota for a 1 week long project taking into account a ridiculous number of important factors. Yes it’s kind or weird and geeky, but I loved the chance to be pragmatic and sit down to solve logistics problems.

But I also love researching exciting vendors, coming up with ideas, and talking to vendors to see what innovative and Instagram-able things we can create.

What its really like to work in the events industryThe satisfaction of seeing a project through to the end

This is one of my favorite aspects of working in live events. I get to see my hard work pay off. I’m not just a cog turning endlessly.

Being able to see such a direct impact of my work keeps me motivated in a way that many other jobs don’t. Yes, there’s more pressure but also way more personal satisfaction and a desire to do my best.

Cons

It’s not a 9-5 job… not even close

Yes, you might have quiet or more regulated periods when you have set, balanced work hours, but this is not the industry for you’re the type of person that wants to switch off at 5pm.

I’ve gained experience in planning live events in one form or another over the last 10 years. Let me tell you now, expect long days and wonky work schedules, especially in the run up to the event day(s). Things might go wrong at the last minute or take longer than expected. If you don’t put in the extra time, the event just won’t go right – you don’t really have a choice if you want to succeed. At that point, you must do whatever it takes to ensure the event runs flawlessly.

If you have responsibilities or other commitments outside of work, you’re going to need strategies, support and an understanding with the people you love that your work might often (I can almost guarantee it) get in the way.

What it's really like working in the events industryYou need a lot of stamina

Working in events is not for the faint of heart!

I remember the time I was up until 3am cutting out star shapes to deal with a last minute decor problem, throwing up because I had acid reflux, and then, up at 8am to get into the venue and didn’t get to bed until 4am after the event was over. (YIKES!)

Is it weird that I look back at that with feelings of happiness and pride? It’s not the healthiest way to live, but without responsibilities like kids and a relatively high threshold to high stress when it comes to this kind of thing for work, I managed just fine.

Meanwhile, I remember working with an events intern who we had to put in an outhouse for a rest with supplies from our team snack bag because he was so tired part way through an event.

This was a young, sports playing student who I considered to be a lot fitter than me and he hadn’t even been working long hours on the preparation side! But he underestimated us when we warned him how tiring working in the events industry can be! Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

What its really like to work in the events industryStress

Year over year, the job title of Event Planner get featured in lists of the country’s top most stressful jobs. Meeting client expectations, dealing with all the vendors and moving parts, plus all of the inevitable problems you need to solve… if you’re looking for comfort and relaxation, forget it!

No matter how well you prepare beforehand, you always need to be ready to deal with glitches. It might be a rogue DJ, unexpected technical faults, bad weather, demanding clients, or any one of a million other things that you have to think about when you’re planning an event. Oh, and chances are you’ll be working on different stages of multiple events simultaneously.

What its really like to work in the events industryCreativity is only one aspect

If you love event design, decor, brainstorming innovative ideas, and making things look beautiful… great! But it’s not all about Pinterest, mood boards and testing out the latest events trends. This is what a lot of people get caught up by when they think they want to work in the events industry.

There are spreadsheets. With formulas. And logistics. And site maps. Oh, and super detailed multi-paged production schedules. The more complex and exciting the events are, the more paperwork is involved.

You can’t have the fun, shiny stuff without the boring admin work underlying it. And sometimes, you don’t even get to have the fun shiny stuff you (actually) want. Sometimes clients want run-of-the-mill, no frills meetings and conferences or aren’t interested in whatever cool vendor you are desperate to work with.

So, have I turned you off or convinced you that the events industry is the right place for you?

The truth is, you have to embrace the negative side if you want to survive and thrive in the long term, if you decide to pursue a career in live events. You got this!

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