At any event you can think of, from product launch to fundraiser, from Race for Life to school and family events, volunteers to help out are always needed. From roles such as serving refreshments and cheering from the sidelines, to design and distribution of flyers and promoting via social media, to organising the music on the day, a significant proportion of any event’s tasks are passed on to volunteers.
Unfortunately, many people have the notion that by doing something voluntarily, they will automatically be assigned to an unpaid role in the future. However, this really isn’t true – especially if you’re looking for your volunteering role to take you into an event management job.
For example, volunteering to organise a local event in aid of a cancer charity looks good on your CV, not only in respect of those event management skills, but also in your ability to resonate with others, rouse them into action and to be passionate about a cause – all ideal characteristics for an event manager.
Similarly, by volunteering in just a few different roles at various events across a season, such as stewarding at an outdoor event, organising an indoor event, promoting a fundraiser you’ll have a small, but effective portfolio showing your experience in important aspects of an event manager or event assistant’s role. Just as a new writer would be writing for nothing or guest-posting to gather a portfolio of work to help access those paid roles, volunteering in a practical way at events is no different – but just as effective!
Of course, finding the right volunteering opportunities may take a little time, especially if you have a particular skills gap or missing element to your portfolio that you want your volunteer role to fill. There are roughly three approaches you can take:
Seeking a role is all about knowing where to look. Generally, in any locality, the following are good places to start:
Of course, some of these ideas may not sound like they’ll offer the kind of event management preparation you had in mind, but when you consider the logistics and the hidden learning within event organisation, such as risk assessing, communication, problem solving and preparation skills, you’ll find that most volunteer roles will offer considerable experience of vital aspects of an event management role.
Creating your own volunteer role is another challenge, but one which many would-be event managers feel is something they really want to do. It might be that there are no local events running for a charity which you feel really needs local support, or there’s a nearby school or project which needs to gain wider recognition for the work being done. This gives you the chance to take on a whole event challenge, where you will be managing from start to finish, for example by:
If these larger ideas seem too daunting, set yourself goals to gain confidence slowly. You could do this by holding a private family and friends event initially, perhaps an at-home charity coffee morning, before moving onto a more public event with a wider invitation list and public venue.
This not only gives you the chance to gain confidence, but also allows you to build on what you learn from the first event and apply it to the second … giving you plenty to talk about in your event management applications and interviews!
If you’re certain that event management is something you want to move into and you’re ready to start boosting your skills and CV towards this new career, then taking a vocational course with Event Academy qualification could help you.
Our courses cover both theory and practice of event management and include access to work roles and volunteering opportunities, so if there are gaps in your CV and spaces for new faces in an events volunteer sector, Event Academy qualifications could help to extend your repertoire of knowledge and understanding as well as practical skills and experience – and facilitate a good portfolio to offer prospective event management employers too.
Finally, there are lots of ways in which volunteering will help prepare you and your CV for event management applications, but one of the biggest impacts it can have is that it shows your willingness to get involved and get it right, something which is really at the heart of professional event management.