In fact, work placements are so important that these aspects of the course account for half of the course’s six-month programme of study and can prove to be three decisive months for not only our postgraduate students but also their prospective employers, through the benefits they bring to both.
Placement opportunities bring the obvious benefit of allowing students on our postgraduate courses to put their academic study and practical learning into real-event situations and in-role practice. However, these work placements also offer additional benefits of:
Opportunities to see the industry from the inside out
Lots of postgraduate courses offer theory and learning from an outside-in perspective. The benefit of a postgraduate course which incorporates a work placement is that it brings the chance to see how the industry works from the inside-out. For example, seeing how the experts pitch ideas to clients can be invaluable to those who are still learning to do it, whilst observing the different and creative ways that ideas can be explained and visualised for clients in the context of an actual event rather than a classroom or lecture-theatre gives an opportunity to not just learn but actually understand see how the chain-of-event inspiration really works.
Similarly, that real-life context adds another dimension to those ‘what-if’ problem-solving scenarios that might only have been discussed as part of lectures and workshops. Being part of a team challenged with pulling together to avert a real-life event crisis such as a wedding caterer or key-note speaker pulling out at the last minute or a venue being flooded three days before the event can add a whole extra layer of learning. This learning is much wider than strategies for problem-solving, as the personal reactions you experience and the responses you make can tell you a lot about the type of event manager you may become and any additional skills you may need to develop to help you build strengths in crisis management.
Working with actual clients
The ‘for-real’ element of work placements extends to actually working with clients, from pitching your ideas, designing their experiences, delivering their wishes to budgeting with, spending and accounting for their money. You can’t know for sure how you’ll react to a client who’s not keen on your ideas, who wants everything for nothing or who doesn’t agree that your ideas offer value for money until you’ve actually been in that situation with that client.
Although you might not be responsible for that situation as part of your work placement, you’ll certainly be involved alongside someone tasked with building client relationships and seeing how they handle sticky client moments is invaluable for learning about clients, as well as event, management.
Building knowledge (generally)
Work experience offers a good way to build your knowledge not only of event management practice but also of the different contexts in which it takes place. Placements offer the chance of short bursts in specific sectors / companies / roles and event projects, which allow you effectively to road-test the context to see if it lives up to expectation, something which can really help inform your choices about your ultimate event career or role.
Building knowledge (literally)
Gaining a work placement in a venue or landmark building is a great way to build knowledge about what’s involved in venue-specific event management as opposed to project-specific events. Gaining this kind of specialist knowledge in a work placement really broadens your employment prospects, particularly in cities or expanding towns, where venues want to establish themselves in their own corner of the events market.
Having several work placements also offers a good way to build a network of contacts and to become known in the events industry. This doesn’t just mean for potential employment (although it certainly helps as some companies offering work experience opportunities frequently take up successful trainees as employees after graduation), it’s also a way of becoming known to a network of service providers who may be part of your own role later on, for example: caterers, musicians and digital technicians.
Breadth of experience
With not just one, but three work placements in the course of the three months, as well as any work placements and volunteering in the Event Academy diploma course, you’ll be able to offer prospective employers a wide field of experience. Even if the role is a niche one, for example by becoming the in-house wedding planner for a single venue, you’ll offer the employer the benefits of experience in other skill areas such as negotiation, risk assessment and people management, crucial for drawing all aspects of a wedding together successfully.
Insight into how other companies work
We all like to know how others do things especially if they’re particularly successful, which is why many events held each year are dedicated to communicating and sharing good practice, particularly within key industries such as health and education. Knowing that you’ve spent time with other companies can help prospective employers see you as someone who knows what else is ‘out there’ and who has ideas about what good practice looks like. This doesn’t mean breaching confidentiality of course, but it does mean that employers respect that you’ll have insight into what works well, something which may benefit and inform their own practice, for example:
Finally, having a wealth of relevant work placement experience is something which not every candidate has. So it can really differentiate you from other candidates in the competition for an event management role. It also means that your Event Academy experience can bring potential employers a fresh perspective on what they are looking for from the person they employ.