How to Find Your First Event Job and Turn It into an Event Career

Party planner standing outside ballroom
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Too often people think that the only job in event planning is the role of event planner. It’s much more important to realize the scope of this industry, and the millions of jobs that actually exist.

Consider this: Other than their creative thinking skills, most people who work in events management have strong organizational skills. That’s because they are expected to juggle a full range of logistics to execute various programs.

Also, think that event planners spend their time organizing only a few major events? Think again. Many event planners are responsible for organizing anywhere from 35 to 150 events and programs each year.

Think they’re the only ones involved in planning and executing these events? And that’s why this industry offers a full range of opportunities for anyone who wants to find their first event planning job that could ultimately become an entire career.

Corporate Event Jobs

For those who have strong organizational and office skills, the truth is that administrative assistants and office managers are organizing a full range of events in the corporate world. Perhaps it’s as simple as organizing and scheduling department meetings each week, but that’s exactly what event planners do.

And the path can easily continue from there. Marketing departments often organize client events and sales meetings. Human Resources departments may be in charge of the company picnic or holiday party.

Procurement departments get involved in establishing contracts with outside vendors, such as airlines and hotels, and they may be involved in planning and executing many corporate events.

The point is that event activities are part of many corporate positions, and it simply requires some creative thinking to discover those positions.

The titles of those who organize events in corporate positions are about as varied as the roles that exist.

Find corporate event jobs by checking out the job board at Meeting Professionals International.

Association Event Jobs

Just like their corporate counterparts, individuals who work in associations will organize a full range of meetings and events. There are the obvious meeting planning jobs, but there are many other less obvious positions at associations that still require similar responsibilities.

Many associations typically hold a range of educational programs throughout the year, and that’s exactly what event planners do. If you check out most association websites, you’ll find that they are holding webinars, regional meeting, annual conventions, and more.

Those who want to find event jobs in an association environment simply need to consider the various departments that get involved in any aspect of these programs. Find the job that fits your interest and grow from there.

Find association event jobs by checking out the Association Forum or Professional Convention Management Association.

Nonprofit Event Jobs

Nonprofits are similar to the association environment in that their focus is often to organize a range of community educational programs and activities related to the cause and its mission.

However, a good piece of advice for anyone interested in pursuing any career in a nonprofit environment is that it’s important to choose a cause where you have a personal stake. Many people seek jobs in a nonprofit environment because they think that the position will be stable and safe from the economy’s impact. This simply is no longer true.

The good news is that many leaders in nonprofits still want to have a team that cares about the cause. They are able to sense who is sincere, and who is looking for short-term experience.

Find nonprofit event jobs by checking out NPO.net.

Government Event Jobs

Government event jobs are a breed unto themselves.

While there’s probably a good reason to be skeptical about whether some folks get these positions as a result of political connections, the reality is that the work is such that most cities and local governments really do need professional event planners in these roles.

Common programs organized by special events departments in cities include community festivals throughout the year. But there are many other positions to consider. For example, many government agencies hold annual conferences and events within their agencies, and this work needs to fall upon professional event organizers.

Learn more about government event jobs from the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.

Event Jobs in Hotels

Those who organize events on behalf of their organizations are typically viewed as the “buyer" side of the industry. The supplier side offers many more opportunities for event planning jobs. And the sheer volume of hotels out there means that there are many job opportunities in the convention sales and catering arena.

Event jobs in hotels do have a demanding schedule. That is, event and meeting space is frequently busy during the weekdays with seminars and conferences; evenings may be used for more formal business events or fundraisers and weekends are committed to social events such as weddings throughout the year. This is fantastic experience for anyone who’s searching for an event job.

Event Jobs in Restaurants

Just like their hotel counterparts, restaurants have private function space and event and catering managers are responsible for overseeing those programs. Actually, restaurants are probably the most popular offsite venue for hosting a variety of corporate and social events.

Event Jobs at Other Event Venues

As you begin to consider the various places where events are held, let your imagination run wild. Your first thought will probably lead you to convention centers, but more creative thinking should point you toward museums, art galleries, historical venues, shopping centers, amusement venues, sporting venues, race tracks, and so on. If you think a group event is organized there, chances are there’s a position involved in managing corporate and social events.

Event Jobs with Event Services

Next, imagine the range of businesses that play some sort of role in planning or executing corporate and social events. Just begin to consider a little brainstorming and you’ll think about businesses such as party rentals, tents, florals, staging, security, transportation, photography, catering and more. Each of these employers will have a need for someone who offers strong selling and account management skills with their event clients.

Search the Event Job Boards

It’s important to have at least an appreciation for all of the various people who are involved in planning and executing event programs before beginning any job search in this industry. The larger your perspective about event jobs, the greater the number of possibilities that will present themselves to you.

Check out my Event Planning Career Search to find event job opportunities near you.