You’ve decided to train as an event manager! That’s a fine decision towards a potentially great career but, just as there are different types of event managers, there are also different types of events education.
To help you work out what kind of event education you might need, four highly experienced event industry experts answer four need-to-know questions …
#1. Which do I need the most – theory or practical learning?
Although a significant amount of theory underpins event management and is vital for fully understanding the industry, putting theory into practice literally requires practice and applied learning, including venue-specific, role-centred and communications-based activities. So, as event management is essentially a hands-on industry, it makes sense that event education with strong practical elements is desirable.
Whilst some university courses can offer pockets of practical activity alongside their degree courses, the UK’s leading event education specialists, Event Academy, offer practical learning firmly alongside every stage of theory, as Lorne Armstrong, Director of Event Academy describes:
“the discipline of delivering an event is inevitably very practical, hands-on and experiential, so it would be hopeless trying to teach it in another way. These approaches enable students to understand what they need to know about events, so we teach through experiences, so students feel involved and therefore take ownership of it.”
This approach not only helps to produce better event managers, but also enhances the learning experience, as Chirag Patel, now a freelance Production and Content Manager, discovered during his Postgraduate course:
“There’s no need for you to have to spend four or five years learning a university degree,” he asserts, “event education is about the practical mindset, learning the basics and then obviously improving constantly as you go through events. Event Academy courses allow you to develop those things, know what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, to give you a whole overview of the course but you also learn from it because you’re in it.”
Lorne also explains how this approach benefits career prospects:
“We apply the same principles as blended learning but refocus them to adult learning. This enables students to do more than just understand their subjects, but to leave confident, connected and equipped to create meaningful careers.”
Having witnessed the success of students, firstly within course activities and then as they move into their careers in events, Justine Kane, Course Director of Event Academy, agrees that event education should result in work-ready event professionals as well as potential career opportunities:
“The industry really sees us as leaders in the industry, so we become the first supplier for a lot of the event organisations out there because they know the quality of our event management trainees and graduates. We really pride ourselves on bringing out what we call “work ready” students: they can talk the talk and walk the walk. We put trainees through the mill from a practical perspective in the classroom, but also give them the confidence to be able to stand up in an interview and do well, to not just know the job but to do the job and do it well.”
#2. Why do I need education styled towards the industry?
As a senior lecturer at Event Academy, Martin Turner suggests that being taught about the industry is taken to the next level when the teachers and lecturers are themselves respected event professionals:
“People who “fall into events by accident” are only learning as they go, and often from people with a limited perspective on what is best practice,” he explains. “By attending Event Academy courses, the person has a rounded fundamental practical knowledge of how to manage and execute events as a consultant – and not as an order taker.”
Whilst arguably any type of event education can provide a limited extent of practical know-how, being taught by industry experts turns industry knowledge into both professional practice and best practice.
Justine agrees that being part of the actual profession is a vital factor in getting high quality event education:
“We pride ourselves on all of our lecturers being live event organisers themselves and at the top of their game, so everything you’re hearing is really cutting-edge, as live as it can possibly get. There’s a level of professionalism with it too, so we will teach best practice, about what’s happening in the industry.”
#3. How can events education support me to get started in events?
The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s accreditation of specific professional event courses clearly demonstrates that marketing is integral to event management. As such, a key way to demonstrate to potential event employers that you have the skills, knowledge and experience to market their event is to study a CIM-accredited events qualification. CIM accreditation not only provides you with the necessary marketing expertise, but also gives you an edge when putting what you’re learning into practice by actively marketing yourself when it’s time to apply for event roles.
This is something Martin Turner specifically advises his event trainees to do:
“Many people want to work in the events business. Managers of businesses which employ event managers are approached continually by cold-calling and letters with attached CV, but most make their way to a file or the bin. So what makes your CV stand out? A CIM Event Management qualification is a very good start, along with a list of diverse events you have worked on.”
And of course this is something that Chirag’s CV also bears testament to, as he acknowledges that his Postgraduate Diploma from Event Academy made a significant difference for him when marketing his skills to potential employers:
“You get [from the course] your CV training, interview training and how to market yourself. The way I think about it is that if you can’t market yourself, why would an event company or an event client give you money to be able to sell them? If you can’t show how good you are to a person, then why would they give you millions of pounds for you to do their event?”
#4. What else should I look for, from my event education options?
Finally, to make the most of any potential event education or training, think about what it brings you not just in terms of experience, knowledge and best-practice, but also in that other industry-essential: a network. By taking a course which puts professional experience at the centre, it’s possible to create a professional network whilst still training, so you’re not just work-ready for doing the job, but for delivering other professionals who might be needed – whatever the event.
Justine is very clear about this vital aspect of event education:
“I want them [Event Academy students] to have a good network and start to know the value of networking so that they can start to build one up … that can really make the difference between you being a good event manager and a really good event manager,”
she emphasises, before explaining what she means.
“As an events professional, when you’re working with a client and difficulties arise you’ve got two options – you can present them with the problem or you can present them with the solution. The client wants the solution every time, and the solution is usually found within the network! The power of the network is fantastic for finding a job and future career steps but it’s also really about delivering success.”
So, when it comes to finding the right event education, it’s essential to identify the combination of course and provider which delivers the successful outcomes needed to develop your learning experience, professional practice and future career. In this way, you should not only gain the knowledge, skills and professional network which qualifies you to be an event professional, but which also enables, equips and empowers you to be a successful one.
Guest Blog supplied by Event Academy
Event Academy is an event management course provider offering live courses, delivered from King’s College London, and online courses. Event Academy is the only event training institution fully accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Find out more about our courses and accreditations on our website.