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.
City of Sparks
Great Reno Balloon Races
Hot August Nights
Barracuda Championship Golf Tournament
Know any other great special events looking for volunteers? Please post in the comments.