Event planning has always been a passion of mine. My earliest memory was when I was eight years old and a family friend asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I quickly responded, “I want to be a party planner.” I was always the creative type and planned themed parties and holiday gatherings with my mother. I guess you can say event planning is in my genes. Fast forward to my college years when event planning was just a hobby.
I was the “go to girl” for my family and friends, creating their vision for their special occasions. Prior to becoming a wedding and event planner, I received a dual Masters and became a certified teacher in Early Childhood and Special Education.
I knew something was missing in my life that would define my greatest passion. I knew it was time to take a leap of faith and transition my hobby into a career.
Before I made this life changing decision, I wanted to gain more of an insight of what the event industry was like. Knowing that I learned best through hands on experience, I began reaching out to local event planners in my area via telephone and email inquiring about an internship or assistant work. I would hear, “Let me take your information. I’ll keep you in mind” or no response to my emails. Coming from the world of teaching others and promoting education, I was discouraged and stunned how no one was willing to teach me their craft. Then it hit me. Event planning is a competitive industry. Seasoned event planners aren’t going to show me the ropes to make it in the industry, let alone share information about running their business. After all, I was potentially their competition.
Days after my last graduate school class, I enrolled into a Wedding and Event Planning Certification course. I learned a lot through the certification process about etiquette, traditions and terminology, but not that hands on experience one needs to execute an event from beginning to end. I continued learning by attending workshops and conferences. This just left me feeling excited and inspired. I needed someone who would take me under their wings and guide me in the right direction in executing events in its entirety. I met my mentors while taking this certification course. It was truly the best decision I ever made. It was a “community” of aspiring and seasoned wedding and event planners eager to learn and teach one another.
I was encouraged by one of my colleagues to attend an ISES New Jersey North meeting. I was very hesitant due to the past experience I had when dealing with the “competition.” Now I was going to be in a room filled with competition. Being a newbie and surrounded by other event professional with years of experience, I was a bundle of nerves. I soon learned, ISES was a community of all types of event professional coming together and following ISES’s core values---creativity, inspiration, teamwork, education and relationship. I learned that ISES members were far from worried about competition and more focused on the community with networking, collaboration and professional development in oneself and/or business. All members invested themselves in this community. We listened and learned from others faults and triumphs. One shouldn’t view sharing information to others as creating competition. It takes drive, determination and learning from mistakes to be successful. Be your own competition and share you experiences with the community.