I was excited when we were instructed to interview a Public Relations professional. I decided to find someone who held the position that I would one day like to have; an event planner. I compiled the notes I took during my interview, making it more of a story versus a question/answer interview. I want you, as the reader, to feel as if you are actually at the interview while reading this.
Susan Carter, age 53, works for Solvay Pharmaceutical company. She attended Auburn University, graduating with a major in Business Administration. She was hired to plan the events dealing with Solvay.
“Dallas, Texas, the Hilton Anatole. 195 guests with two large conference rooms, a 5 star restaurant on the 27th floor and 72 hotel rooms.” This is just the beginning of the list Mrs. Carter must finalize before the convention on October 12. Yes, events are planned over 6 months in advance with multiple trips taken in order to assure that everything goes according to plan. No work week is ever the same. This atmosphere is full of organization, meeting after meeting over something as simple as the table decorations, and examining suites where the corporate leaders will be staying. Carter reminisced, “The stress can seem unbearable at times. I have spent many of events solving a situation, running to cry in the bathroom, fixing my make-up, and then deciphering the next problem.”
It is extremely important to provide a hotel that is located near entertainment such as restaurants, bars, or plays for the businessmen to go to at night. Every hotel, no matter the capacity it holds, has what is called a “sales kit.” “These pamphlets have everything about the hotel; from the meeting rooms, what each bedroom contains, and even the dimensions of every room within the hotel.” The location has a huge impact on the event itself. One part of an Event Coordinator’s job is to study every angle of the hotel rooms, where the meetings will be held, and how the staff interacts with the customers. The “sales kit” helps to show the features of each section of the hotel and what is has to offer. “People remember little things, like the chandeliers in the dining areas or the generosity of the valet boys.” Mrs. Carter then went on to describe her favorite event, which was held in Las Vegas. “I was able to have a large budget for this event. We rented gambling machines for the clients to play while in the conference room. The decorations were set up to make it seem as if the group was in its own casino.”
When I asked Mrs. Carter the best way to get involved in the event planning field, she said, “I suggest you start either interning or working at a hotel. This will enable you to work with the side that hosts events.” She recalled her first job as an assistant for an Event Coordinator at a hotel. She clarified that although the salaries vary, an experienced independent may make as much as $450 a day and usually fly between 20-25 times a year. There are slow periods of the year, but at the same time there is something always to prepare for in the future. Long working hours are involved along with weekends spent preparing for the event.
Mrs. Carter said that writing is only involved when dealing with wrap-up meetings. She must fill out a form, listing all the areas where she spent money. The form also asks what went well during the event, as well as where improvement was needed. Mrs. Carter believes that staying up-to-date with technology is important for any job in public relations. “It makes a client feel more at ease if the person they hired is regularly trained in the field of technology.” Being current in this field will help you succeed.
Mrs. Carter stated that she never dreamed she would be working in this area, but she would not want it any other way. “Although there are tough and stressful times, seeing the final products makes it all worth it.”
As I was looking over my notes from this interview, I realized that this truly is the career of my dreams. I like for my life to be fast-paced. Mrs. Carter mentioned that an event planner must be ready for any situation to arise. I feel as if I would do well in this field because I work well under pressure. Leadership is required in order to produce the results needed to pull off the function. I feel as if I could meet the criteria for this career.