Job Title: Special Event Planner
Type of Company: A non-profit that raises money for natural science museum.
Education: BA, Communications, Michigan State University working on MA, Design, North Carolina State University
Previous Experience: I was an art buyer for an advertising agency.
Job Tasks: My main responsibility is to plan events for museum members and development events that raise funds for our organization. Member events are often special exhibit previews. Depending on the budget, these events will either be catered or I will have to purchase the refreshments and cater them myself with the help of volunteers. Other member events include educational events such as lectures. For some of our exhibits I have created a lecture series. Producing these involves finding appropriate lecturers, arranging for their travel, hosting them while they are in town, working out a budget that allows us to either make a profit or, at the very least, cover our costs. I work out all the audiovisual details, market the lectures and staff them.
Other events are larger development fundraisers that involve months of preparation. Preparations, which can often be complex, include determining budgets, targeting potential contributors, working with graphic artists for invites, signs, etc., working with caterers on menus, pricing and presentation, working with various vendors for decor, rentals, entertainment, etc., staffing the event with volunteers and doing all the follow-through afterwards, etc.
My job calls on every ounce of my creativity to make each event unique and special, my business skills to make sure that each event is profitable or at the very least fulfilling and my organizational skills to make sure that every detail of the event is thought through.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that it is challenging and fluid. No two events are ever the same, so I never feel like I am in a rut. My schedule is also one of my favorite parts of my job. I can work from home or the museum and I just need to make sure that I get the job done successfully. I am not tied down to a desk or to set hours.
The worst part of my job is that I never truly walk away from it. I am constantly thinking about the events I am planning and often dream about them!
Job Tips: Get involved in the planning of events for school or any organizations of which you are a member. Volunteering for the planning of these events will teach you so many things. Volunteer for non-profits (American Cancer Society, museums, etc.) in your area that host events and see if you can help. The more events and aspects of events that you work on the more you will know what interests you and give you experience for a career in event planning.
Additional Thoughts: The most important personal quality you need to have in this job is the ability to see the big picture (the theme, feel and ambiance of an event). But you also need to be very detailed-minded, (making sure that there are extra pens at the check-in table, for example) so that you have everything covered and don't encounter problems the day of the event.
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