6 Ways to Break Into Corporate Event Planning
Not every event planner has the same job title
There are many event planning careers in the corporate world. While jobs in marketing and event management focus on the most common corporate events (seminars, conferences, trade shows, and appreciation events), some less obvious event-related jobs exist in communications, training and the corporate foundation. Some of the more interesting events are planned through departments that are not specifically focused on external affairs.
If you do look at non-traditional career routes, though, do be sure that your job will include event planning. While some administrative assistants (for example) spend a good percentage of their time managing travel, setting up luncheons, and handling logistics, others spend most of their time on record-keeping and purchase orders.
For those who want to work 100% of the time in corporate event jobs, the meeting management department is the obvious route.
Individuals in this area contract outside services and manage lodging, food & beverage, transportation, A/V, and other expenses. These jobs are often part of the purchasing department, so expense management drives many decisions. Common job titles include:
- Meeting Planner
- Travel Coordinator
- Meeting Assistant
Administrative support personnel may manage event responsibilities, plan and executes departmental and client-specific meetings, handle travel arrangements, and more. They may also work with outside hospitality vendors, track outside services budgets, etc.
With the focus on strong organizational skills, many event planners start their path here and transfer into other event planning roles. Some administrative jobs are more likely than others to offer planning opportunities, so do ask questions before taking such a job with the expectation that you'll get experience with event planning.
Common job titles that include this type of work include:
- Administrative Assistant
- Executive Assistant
- Senior Administrative Assistant
Marketing and Sales
Whether an organization is sales-driven or marketing focused, the business area of any company coordinates the bulk of events, especially smaller meetings. For marketers, the emphasis is on return investment for the value of events rather than expense management.
Most organizations recognize the value of face-to-face activities, and this has led to an increased focus on client seminars, conferences, appreciation events and more. Often, people with the following job titles are asked to plan and/or manage events:
- Marketing Coordinator
- Meeting/Event Manager
- Marketing Specialist
- Product Specialist
The communications department of many corporations is responsible for "brand" management. It focuses on business communications, internal communications, advertising, community relations, media relations, sponsorships, and more.
Although event planning is not the primary focus, activities that involve events may include creating a presence for media events, trade shows, mobile marketing, sponsorships, employee meetings, etc. Entry-level job titles include:
- Communications Specialist
- Advertising Coordinator/Promotions Assistant
- Public Relations Specialist
Education and Training
The Human Resources department in many corporations is responsible for planning and executing a range of educational meetings, programs, and events. These may include corporate training programs for new employees, field office training, employee development, and annual employee training. Depending on the corporation and the particular type of training, events may include travel, arrangements with venues, meal planning, and more. In many cases, the people who set up training events have titles such as:
- Training Assistant
- Training Specialist
- Corporate Trainer
- Training Manager
The corporate foundation is a great source for event jobs, and possibly one of the more overlooked areas. A corporate foundation job could be a paradise for an event planner.
Positions within the foundation may allow you to represent the business while working closely with non-profit and community organizations. Events are likely to range from small planning sessions to large-scale celebrations, ground-breaking events, formal dinners, and even galas. As a result, people helping to plan foundation events may need to select venues, set up entertainment, work with caterers, and manage logistics. Some such positions may include:
- Foundation Specialist
- Program Manager
- Foundation Assistant