When it comes to people over the age of thirty-five in the events management industry, most have an interesting story about how they began managing events. People who have joined the event industry more recently have taken a more direct route into the business.
My name is Kelliann Cooper and I plan to dive straight into the events management industry for a lifelong career as an event coordinator and/or manager.
Having a foot in the door that opens to the event industry at my young age of eighteen is uncommon. However, thanks to Joanne Dennison, that was made possible for me. I am very grateful for Joanne and her generosity throughout my six-week internship with her this past spring. I grew up in the suburban town of Westford, Massachusetts, which she also called home. During my sophomore year of high school in December, I met Joanne at an event my school hosted called the Career Breakfast. Around sixty people of various professions came to the school that morning to educate sophomore students about their occupations. At that point in time, I had interest in becoming an author, graphic designer, or architect. Since options were limited at the Career Breakfast, I chose to explore what event planning and interior designing had to offer. Up until seeing the job title on the list, I had never heard of an event planner before, however the idea struck my interest! Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting Joanne Dennison to gather insight as to what it is like to plan and manage events. Two years later, during my senior year, I reached out to her in hopes of a mentor. To my delight, I had the privilege of an internship with her for the last six weeks of my senior year. This internship was one of the best decisions of my life. Having been exposed to a variety of experiences and responsibilities, I found something I have always wanted to feel for work: passion.
Joanne’s business, The Meet Guide, was the perfect choice for me. Although my original expectations were not met, they were exceeded in a different and more beneficial way. Not only did it provide me with experience of the planning and preparation behind an event such as a meeting, but Joanne educated me so that I have in-depth knowledge of the industry overall.
Coming into this internship, I expected to be traveling event to event with an event planner to take notes on how the event went and grasp how Joanne would handle impeding situations. What I did not know was that I would only attend two events with her – neither of which were hers – and would gain so much more: knowledge, initiative, and in-depth understanding. In addition, I have gained enough experience to understand the environment of coordinating events. What I did not expect was to also have a remarkable amount of responsibility entrusted to me with Joanne’s entire marketing system of The Meet Guide. As Joanne’s marketing manager and office assistant of The Meet Guide, I was responsible for updating, managing and sending out her marketing email newsletters called the E-Guide, researching job opportunities and articles of interest related to the industry, summarizing information in the newsletters, ordering and assorting the materials she needed for her own events, and helping Joanne with any task she needed to be worked on or completed within a condensed time frame. In fact, I was named her “Sherpa” as seen on the following business card.
Joanne and I were also able to travel, going to events and visiting sites for their event spacing and qualities. That is surely one major perk about interning with a meeting planner: the chance to travel and attend the meetings in person. Although I was not able to go to Joanne’s two-day class in New Jersey, I had the opportunity to attend two events with her, which taught me a variety of skills, strategies and social media tactics that help improve events.
MPINE MARCH EVENT
The first event was the MPI New England Chapter Educational Meeting on March twenty-second at the Westin Waltham Boston Hotel. It educated us on how to make events more exciting and successful during each stage of the event (pre-event, event, post-event). I felt grateful and thrilled to be there with the opportunity to learn – and I typed three pages of notes! I made sure to record how brilliant it was to tie the activity to both the lesson and meal. The evening started off with a competitive activity called The Battle of the Burgers where assigned groups each created their own burger, named it, and made team flags. Following the activity, everyone gathered in the meeting space for the presentation that used the event itself as the prime example of the lesson. Afterwards, when the winning burger was announced, Relish Burger Bistro, one of the restaurants in the hotel, brought out all of the newly invented burger recipes it prepared for all the guests as the meal. I was able to meet numerous people, several of which are closely connected with Joanne, including Cecil Dorman. Aside from being a very upbeat and enthusiastic individual, Cecil is also the Vice President in Business Development at AVFX. He helped host the second event Joanne and I attended: The Hands-On Lighting Show on April eighteenth at the AVFX headquarters located in Boston.
HANDS-ON LIGHTING CLASS
Apart from the incredible sandwiches and treats, guests were given a thorough and detailed measure of information revolving around everything having to do with the lighting at an event. We learned the types of lighting equipment, lighting projections, colors, terms, safety requirements, laws and liabilities, costs, newest technologies (including a see-through electronic screen), process of setting up lightings, and venue analysis for the event. I personally gained a lot of knowledge and respect for lighting companies with how much work is put into an event behind the scenes.
One of the most scenic places I have ever been to is the Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine. On Thursday, May nineteenth, Joanne and I were invited by Rebecca Lee to come visit and tour the Cliff House. Rebecca is another connection of Joanne’s and is the Events Services Manager at the Cliff House. Although our lunch at the Tiller restaurant inside the Cliff House was amazing, it was truly Rebecca who enhanced our site visit. She guided Joanne and me through the resort’s meeting space, a room, the exquisite spa, and the scenic outdoors surrounding the resort. We were informed that a new residence complex and swimming pool were in the process of being constructed that will be ready in September. It was a wonderful and enjoyable site visit that will surely make me keep the Cliff House in mind when planning my own events someday.
Throughout my internship, I have been imagining myself in Joanne’s shoes as well as the shoes of a variety of people of related positions. In its entirety, my impression of event and meeting industry is a positive, organized yet stressful one – a perfect environment for me I believe! I am well suited, can handle stress well, and very capable of taking on the challenges and spontaneous decision-making requirements for this industry, partly because of my abilities to come up with creative ideas and solutions that would be very handy in situations that impede on the flow or schedule of an event. I was able to finish six E-Guides for Joanne since I started my internship in April. Managing it for her has been not only a huge help, but also a fulfilling accomplishment for me. I quickly learned how to utilize the Constant Contact system for creating The Meet Guide newsletters and to my benefit, excelled. I am grateful that Joanne has truly optimized my internship while giving me multiple opportunities to experience event planning, marketing, and some events themselves.
Experience is something that cannot be taught, as there is more knowledge that can be taken away from an experience than a book. The internship has affected my future career choice by convincing me that I belong in the field. Over the course of the six weeks, I had not only grown professionally in skills and knowledge, but have grown so much on a personal level. Having visualized myself repeatedly in this field, I can envision myself obtaining the abilities needed to succeed as an event planner someday. Although this profession is one of the top ten most stressful jobs, I am an individual who is able to handle and work through stressful situations to deal with stressed out people in ways that show great hospitality and patience. My skills with online social media marketing, planning and organization have been sharpened, and my interest for event planning has evolved into a passion.
As a graduating member of the class of 2017 from Westford Academy, I will be attending Roger Williams University beginning this August. I plan to further my education in pursuit of earning a bachelor’s degree in business, majoring in management and marketing. Managing and marketing have always been underlying fascinations of mine. I enjoy promoting and organizing events while conducting business with a strong, positive foundation. My ambition is to learn as much as I can absorb in college while continuously improving my skills to develop, market and manage my own business someday. Whether it is to plan corporate and/or special events for people, I do not know just yet. Either way, after graduating from Roger Williams University, I will be able to transform my dream of event managing into a successful reality.
I would like to thank Joanne Dennison for all the knowledge, opportunities, and experiences that have guided me to discover my niche in the events industry. You are an amazing woman, meeting planner, and friend.
Kelliann R. Cooper
23 June 2017
The Meet Guide