One of the main pillars of the International Special Events Society (ISES) and even more specifically, the NJ North Chapter, is EDUCATION. Our chapter's overriding programming theme for this year is "GET SMART".
As Event Professionals, we're part of a constantly evolving industry where hands-on experiences are crucial and continued education, often overlooked, is just as valuable.
If you didn’t know, colleges are now beginning to embrace the growth of the Event industry and the value in giving students a foundation prior to entering the industry by offering Event-oriented courses. When I first found this out, I was so genuinely excited I couldn’t resist an opportunity to interact with the incredibly fortunate students of these classes.
As the Director of Student Membership, my goal is to get students involved in our chapter so that they can be educated on the realities of the industry (versus the "glamour") and be exposed to experiences that will help them tremendously in their professional (and personal) growth. We all constantly praise the efforts of networking and hustling, so if you are anything like me, you’ll relate to my enthusiasm to offer such opportunities to our next generation of event professionals.
With that in mind, we started our ISES year with a class visit to Kean University a few weeks ago, extremely fitting with our yearlong “Get Smart” theme. Veronica Yankowski of VeroLuce Photography & Brandon Liebeskind of AAA Transportation Worldwide joined me as we spoke to two Event Planning classes. If you can remember your own experience in college, students at 9:30am are often not the most engaging and awake. But, between our super fun personalities and Professor Stravka’s push for participation, we had a great experience with both classes.
No doubt about it, we work in a passion-filled, trend setting, exciting industry that all of our friends think revolves around drinking, schmoozing, and going to parties every day (partially true). At the same time, our industry is over glamorized to an extent, distorting the work and processes it takes to make successful events happen. Enlightening the students with that knowledge seemed to be a running theme during our talks, not because we wanted to scare them from entering the industry, but to better prepare their expectations to match reality.
We covered a range of topics the students had submitted questions on, some of which included:
How we got our first opportunities in the industry
Qualities and resources needed to get started in Events
“War Stories”—Events that didn’t go quite as planned and how we handled them
The differences between being an entrepreneur/small business owner and working for a larger company
What role ISES has had in our professional (and personal) lives (**this was a great opportunity to plug Brandon’s recent engagement; the result of an ISES matchmaking!)
How students can get involved with volunteer opportunities and internships
Needless to say, we could only cover so much in 1 hour, but we did have students staying after class to speak with us, sign up as volunteers for our upcoming ISES event, and inquire about becoming members.
Our speaking engagements are only the first step in a plan to further develop the benefits of student membership for both students and our chapter members. Think about it -- we may be the professionals in this scenario, but we are in an industry that promotes creativity and growth, which could very well come from these motivated and curious students.
Cheers to the future of our industry.... Daniela Grafman