A: If you’ve ever realized that you have a natural knack for organization, uniting people and bringing them joy and fulfillment, you might have considered becoming an Event Planner. Event Planners conceive, create and manage projects that can range from small gatherings to gargantuan festivals, and everything in between. It’s grueling yet extremely rewarding work, that allows successful planners access to people and places they likely wouldn’t have been involved with otherwise. The job can be stressful, but many event planners are able to work for themselves, and only take on projects when and if they’re interested in doing them. So how does someone become an event planner?
First, you need to take a probing look at yourself. Do you have superb communication, time management and organization skills? If not, this isn’t the career for you. While not required, earning a Bachelor’s degree is recommended for Event Planners. Some relevant fields for undergraduate degrees include hospitality management, tourism management, marketing, business, communications, public relations, and more. An internship at a hotel, event planning company, catering company or similar business will go a long way to giving you a realistic idea of the logistical issues event planners deal with. The more you understand just what it takes to pull off a successful event, or serve large numbers of people, the better you’ll do when faced with a confining budget, demanding clients and a ironclad deadline. You can’t do this job if you can’t handle stress, so be prepared to greet it with a smile and the certainty that you can tackle whatever challenges present themselves. Event planning is often about improvisation in the face of challenging weather, finances, clients, locations, caterers and more.
An integral part of entering any business is researching it. Through reading about what event planners do, and the struggles they face, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you need to improve about yourself, and what kind of event planner you want to be. Event planners excel at finding and engaging prime venues, contracting vendors, writing and sending invitations, hiring entertainment, managing staff, scheduling and facilitating travel and accommodation. That’s just a few things on an ever expanding list that Event Planners juggle, all while making sure they revolve around customer satisfaction.
Another great way to become an Event Planner is through networking. If you’re really passionate about working in this field, offering your services to, or shadowing established professionals can be a great way to get a start in the business. Sometimes you might consider taking a job in guest relations, doing administrative work, helping to manage an estate or coordinate catering for a variety of businesses to build skills you could later apply exclusively to event planning. This is a line of work that values a willingness to work for free to learn, or to help others on events that have significant positive impacts on the world. You might not think working at a florist shop, or volunteering for a nonprofit could help your event planning career, until you begin to see how the business permeates all aspects of society. Volunteering at nonprofits presents a unique opportunity to prove to yourself that you can go above and beyond whatever duties or responsibilities you have to produce much more. You might consider trying to become a fundraising chair or operations manager at a nonprofit or organization you belong to. Or you could offer to cater an event a friend of yours is holding, and end up getting a recommendation to do the same for someone else. The interconnected nature of event planning with everything around it goes hand in hand with the ability to cultivate strong relationships and leave memorable impressions on all the people you meet.
In any career there are skills you need to build in order to be successful. More than any degree, connection or experience, you have to have the goods and talents that get results when the time comes. Traits and skills that are associated with incredible event planning include computer literacy, troubleshooting, composure, written and verbal comfort, creativity, the ability to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships, and a deadline-driven approach to everything you do. You might also want to start in a niche of event planning and master it. At some point you’ll need to manage all aspects of an event as a successful planner, but there’s no reason you can’t begin as an expert in locations, food, invitations or event marketing. Being able to sell yourself to potential clients, or firms that employ event planners is perhaps the most important skill in the business. If they believe you can pull it off, no matter what it is, you’re most of the way there.
There are also several certifications you can earn to help build bonafide credentials in event planning. These certifications require relevant work experience and in some cases memberships, course completions, and exams. Some certifications to consider include Certified Meeting Professional or Certified Government Meeting professional, Certified Special Events Professional, or Certified professional in Catering and Events.