Guide to Your First Event Planning Job

Caterers working together in event space
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Whether you are fresh out of college or looking for a career change, the event planning business can be an exciting experience for those who love to solve problems and build projects from the ground up. As with most careers, though, getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. That is why you need to expand your job search beyond the classified ads and start reaching out to companies and organizations that rely on planners to keep their operation running. Follow this map to discover five great places to begin your job search.


Almost every Fortune 500 company has a dedicated event planning department charged with organizing all of their conferences, training seminars, and off-site meetings. Browsing their websites for job listings is the perfect start to launching your career, especially if some companies are right in your backyard. The first step is to find out who leads the event department and get them your resume and contact information. Even if there are no open opportunities today, you never know when the situation will change. Keep in touch with the lead planner to give yourself the edge when a position does open.

Non-Profit and Service Organizations

Organizations like the Red Cross, United Way, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are always looking for talented individuals to organize their endless calendar of events. And because so much of what these organizations do is outside of the office, almost every position will be exposed to some facet of event planning. If you are looking to gain experience across the board, then the opportunities available at a non-profit will give you the hands-on involvement needed to propel your event planning career.

Hotels and Convention Centers

When it comes to long-term growth prospects, the hotel industry offers unlimited potential. Every hotel and event venue with meeting space has a sales and service staff to sell rooms and tend to customer needs. If you lack experience then you may want to aim for a banquet manager, shift supervisor or catering sales position as a start. Upper management positions include sales manager, assistant general manager, and catering manager. Once you gain familiarity with the system and prove yourself, there will be plenty of advancement options. Hotels love to promote from within, so it pays to work hard and develop your skills with one company.

Catering and Event Rental Companies

There are several types of vendors that work in tandem with venues and customers to provide essential services. At the top of the list are caterers and event rental companies, both of which employ sales people and supervisors to ensure everything gets done on event day. Having front-of-house experience at a restaurant will translate well to the catering industry, and if you participated in planning events during college then it shouldn’t take long to master the essentials of operating in the event rental business. The key is to present your skill set in relation to the job requirements.

Family and Social Events

Sometimes the easiest way to kick start your event planning career is to create your own experience. Just think how many birthdays, anniversaries and reunions are celebrated every week within your circle of friends and family. You can develop your skills and earn extra money by simply offering your services to people you already know. This is the perfect answer to maintaining a hand in event planning while searching for your first full-time position. You might even find that, with a little determination, your side venture can turn into something much bigger!

As you can see, for those who broaden their search parameters, event planning jobs are not that hard to come by. A common beginner’s mistake is to search too specifically for terms like “meeting planner.” You don’t want to overlook jobs that include duties such as event marketing, project management, and office coordination. Demonstrating success in these related skills will build the foundation for a long career as a planner.