When it comes to job opportunities in the hospitality industry, options aren’t limited solely to being behind the bar, on the floor or in the kitchen. There is an entire world of positions within hospitality that many don’t realise exists. For example, food festivals don’t just come together on their own; and if you’ve ever been at one of these massive events wondering what goes into the planning — or even picking up on things you would do better — you may just be thinking like an event manager without even realising it. That person behind the curtain is the one looking after every tiny detail to bring all that good food and booze together.
We’re asking hospitality graduates who run our favourite events in Sydney to talk about how they got started in the industry. Hospitality and Event management student Rebecca Wheatley is four weeks from graduating and has already earned a successful position as operations event executive at IMG Culinary. Part of her job includes helping run several of IMG’s much-loved culinary events, including Taste of Sydney, Taste of Melbourne and Margret River Gourmet Escape.
Want to run exciting events? Consider a course in Hospitality Management with an events focus.
Just before graduation day, we asked her how she got here and for a few tips on how to be successful in the event management space. And might we add, whether events and the hospitality industry are for you or not, Rebecca gives some pretty steadfast advice no matter what field you’re starting in.
GET AN INTERNSHIP
“When I first finished school, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I was working a million jobs, travelling a lot, and then I just started doing a few internships. They all happened to be in the event management industry, and at one of my internships, I met a few students from William Blue who highly recommended the program, so I signed up for the next trimester. It’s so important to do internships and to get into the work environment. This is the way to start learning what you enjoy and what you’re good at. Networking and learning how businesses work is key, and I wouldn’t have my job if I didn’t do that.”
RECOGNISE YOUR STRENGTHS
“My very first uni subject was to work with a team to make an event. My team ended up doing a charity cocktail party for 130 people. And since it was for charity we had no budget; so figuring out how long to make it all work was very challenging, especially for beginners. I remember looking into ticketing platforms — which often take a percentage — and realising I had to be more creative and find other options. This first project really made me realise how detail oriented I was when looking at events. It’s what really led me to the operations side of event management. This showed me the side of the business that I love and am skilled at.”
JUMP AT OPPORTUNITIES
“During uni, a former student came to one of my professors looking for an operations assistant for Brand Events (now IMG Culinary). My teacher recommended me, and I started off there with a three-month contract role. I kept contracting for IMG Culinary after that and now, at the start of this year, they put me on full-time as operations event executive. It’s been such a great experience and a great opportunity to now graduate with a full-time role.”
EXPECT LONG HOURS AND HARD WORK
“It’s obviously a big challenge to juggle both uni and work; one that so many students struggle through. But finishing school without any job experience is even tougher, so working during uni was key to my success. Right now, I’m working [with] IMG four days per week and fitting uni in where I can. It’s really hectic to do both at once, especially when there are events on. For Taste of Sydney, I had to go bump in at 7am, then run back for classes for a few hours and then head back to the event until midnight or 1am. And right now, I’m working on the program for Margaret River Gourmet Escape and managing all 150 exhibitors, as well as the contractors, schedule, council and all of the logistics.
In this industry, you really devote your life to getting the event over the line. It’s all you do and all you think about. You’re constantly trying to come up with new ideas and ways to make it all work. Then, when the event opens and you see it all come to life, its such a rush and a moment to be really proud of yourself. You need to have that passion to keep going.”
“When you’re just starting out, it’s either long hours, low pay or both, but don’t be afraid to work for it and get through it. If you’re lucky enough to be in an industry that you love, then it all pays off. Especially when juggling school and work, it’s really hard, but remember it’s only temporary. Don’t be afraid to stick it out. Sometimes it feels impossible to do both, but you’ll get through it and be so glad that you did when you have a career at the end of it.”
Launch your career in event management with a degree in Hospitality Management. William Blue
Source: Concrete Playground. Click here to view.
Images: Kaje Ford