When people ask me about my career path they are always surprised to find out I went from producing a political television show to producing special events. They ask how I made the jump and I enthusiastically say – volunteer work!
Since my first year of high school I’ve been volunteering to plan special events. As a student at Wooster High School I was in leadership classes where we planned events, and I volunteered at the Italian Festival each year as part of the Partner in Education program with Eldorado Hotel Casino. I enjoyed volunteering at special events because it was fun, I learned new skills, met interesting people, and became knowledgeable about basic event logistics. I volunteered every time an opportunity was presented.
After college I became a Wrangler volunteer for Reno Rodeo Association and two years later a member. The more I volunteered to work on special events the more I realized it was a great creative outlet for me. After eight years producing Nevada NewsMakers television show, I decided it was time to make a change. I wanted to get out of politics and media to try something new. I started applying for marketing and community relations jobs. One day I realized I should also look at event planning. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” the famous Confucius quote became my motto.
Every job listing I saw for event planning required several years of experience. Since I spent most of my free time since being a teenager volunteering I had an incredible list of experience. I had a wide variety of volunteer references from my experiences volunteering with Reno Rodeo, Reno Santa Crawl, Rotary Club of Reno, and several other non-profits. All my experience came from volunteering and it made me the best candidate. If you want a career in event planning one of the best ways to develop experience is through volunteer work.
My suggestion for anyone that wants to start a new career in event planning is to get out there and volunteer. Use the volunteer opportunities to learn new skills and build a network. I’ve met some of the most amazing people in my life while doing volunteer work and they have made a big difference as I went from one career to the next. I was one of the lucky ones that turned my hobby and passion for special event planning into a paying gig, and you can too, if you get out there and start building a great resume through volunteer work.
Know any other great special events looking for volunteers? Please post in the comments.