Dropping out of Uni and into an event management career

Dropping out of Uni and into an event management career – words Al Woods

Looking to get into event management? Then Daisy McAuliff has a message for you, one which could save you a lot of time and money when it comes to becoming a professional event manager.

And Daisy knows because 2018 has been her year for starting an event management career.


Events education: a decision dilemma

Being a successful event manager is all about decision making – and one of the earliest decisions a would-be event manager has to make is the one which goes: just how should I try to break into the industry? An event management salary can be a good one, as are the prospects, but how do you get there?

Rely on wit and personality? Well, they’re helpful attributes but without professional knowledge and a network to back them up, you’ll only get so far.

Take a course then? Great decision, but what kind of course? A degree? An intensive course? Perhaps something which offers an accreditation recognised within the industry might be better than a degree? Arggh, decisions!

Someone who’s recently been faced with all of these early decisions is event manager Daisy McAuliff. Daisy’s own decision dilemma over the best route for events education was further complicated by the fact she previously dropped out of uni because she was disillusioned by it, as she explains:

“I just wasn’t enjoying it, it just wasn’t really my scene […] I didn’t mind the studying I just wasn’t enjoying the lifestyle.”

After leaving her course, taking time off for travelling and then starting her own baking business, Daisy found a sudden enthusiasm for events. “It got to about Christmas time 2017 and I was going to lots of Christmas Fairs. I realised that instead of selling my products I wanted to be on the other end of the table, organising the fairs to get people there, not actually selling my own stuff. 

So I looked into studying event management at uni. I was looking at all the university courses online and they were obviously all 3 or 4 years long. As I felt I was already 2 years ‘behind’ I really didn’t want to go back into studying for 3 or 4 years again. So I started looking up short courses online and managed to find Event Academy. I went to their Open Evening and started from there.”

Access all events

As Eventbrite’s Introduction To The UK Event Industry In Numbers shows, the events sector continues to grow, with over 25,000 businesses and an estimated 570,000 full-time equivalent jobs now in the sector.

For Daisy, trying to break into this wealth of talent without much experience or knowledge on her CV, meant she wanted a course which would allow her to fully access the industry, both for her learning and her career prospects. Event Academy’s Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) accredited qualifications, recognised throughout the events industry, appealed to Daisy as an industry-relevant alternative to a degree, and a way to stand out when applying for events roles: 

“One of my big worries about not going to uni was not being able to have a degree on my CV, or anything which could help put me above anyone else. But you go into an interview and you say the course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. That’s recognised by everyone in the industry, so they know you’re not just doing a quick course, that you actually have a relevant qualification under your belt as well.”

Paying attention to marketing as a key skill required in the events industry was also a wise decision by Daisy, as marketing knowledge and skills are aspects which significantly underpin both success in the industry, and the direction the UK’s event industry is headed in. As Eventbrite’s Top Events Industry Hiring Trends For 2018 revealed, 46% of event management teams who are expanding are particularly looking to hire marketing and communications event professionals particularly.

Immersive events: immersive event education

Based on her previous experience with uni learning, Daisy has a clear comparison between learning events through projects and experience, and her previous uni studies:

“I think for something like event management which is so hands on, uni just isn’t as beneficial. Obviously with event management there are some academic aspects but I just can’t see that studying those for 3 years is going to be of benefit – because you’re still going to come out needing to apply what you’ve learned.

Something like event management is all based on experience and exposure and the people you meet, so that’s why I picked a short course. And now? Definitely I know it’s not really about studying: I mean you get lectures and you get taught on this course, but that’s not just what this course is about. It’s not even about having a quick way into the industry, it’s about having the right way into the industry.

And finding that right way into an event role has never been more important, as 15% of the event professional respondents in Eventbrite’s latest Pulse Report 2018 revealed they expected to be hiring more staff throughout 2018. However, this represents a drop of 5% compared to the 20% who were looking to employ more event managers in 2017, so the onus is on new event managers like Daisy to show value for money and work-ready skills coming into the role, in order to make an impact and secure a successful start to a career in events.

And becoming work-ready means immersing yourself in what it takes to be an event manager – another reason why a vocationally-based course rather than a uni one felt like the right decision for Daisy. And as decisions go, it’s worked out well – a whole portfolio of verifiable success in her projects in her CIM-accredited Postgraduate Diploma course later and she’s straight into a three month work placement with one of London’s top immersive events agency The Department.

Hang on, Postgraduate without graduating?

The Postgraduate course is so-called because one of the many things it delivers is events experience which bridges that gap between knowing and doing: commonly a problem for those taking a degree route into events, who come out the other side of their education still needing proper event experience to get an events career started. Because what this course offers, as well as 3 months of projects and event-specific experience and education, is a guaranteed 3 month work placement once exams are over.

As such, this course is immensely popular and is also open to those people like Daisy who didn’t go to university but can show they have what it takes to be a professional event manager. After taking the Foundation course, Daisy had to pitch to get her place on the Postgraduate course – and succeeded.

With 88% of Event Academy alumni gaining roles in the event industry 6 months after graduation, and Eventbrite’s latest surveys revealing trends for growth across many areas of the event industry, Daisy’s happy that her decision to immerse herself into events through experiential education was the right one for bringing her event management skills to market and starting her event management career right on schedule.

Dropping out of Uni and into an event management career – words Al Woods





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