There are now many programs that teach event planning, even towards a Masters degree in Event Management. The U.S. is miles ahead of Canada as far as accreditation and professional integrity of event planning and management. Only recently has Montreal begun offering Event Planning certificate courses. John Abbott Cegep has had a program for many years, as well as Lasalle College. There are courses, and certificate programs at Concordia that touch on Event Management, and then for a short lived time at Trebas. No matter, all of the courses are certificate programs.
The debate always arises on whether event planning can even be taught effectively, or is it solely experience that will teach. I believe that both are important today. At Eventure for many years we have an internship offering that allows students to gain first hand knowledge of event planning. We make sure that all of our interns are given the full opportunity to not only work events, but plan, design, source and work on proposals and meetings to learn all facets of event planning, from the initial sale to completion.
I am on the fence on the merit of what students can actually learn in the classroom. I have taught a few courses, and also have had the privilege of guest lecturing at a few. The reality is that most students coming out of the programs learn a lot of the concepts of event planning and organization, but little on hands on knowledge of how events flow and actually work.
I taught a risk management class, and we learned about the theoretical on what to do and plan for the worst of the worst. I have a feeling though that every student will take their text book from the class and throw it into the fire, before they actually remember what we learned if there was a fire at an event.
But, the fact that there are courses that will prepare students to begin the real work of event planning is a step in the right direction. I have written in previous blogs my opinion on the traditional event planner. Women who plan their daughters weddings and then print business cards and work out of their kitchens. This is dangerous, and an insult to my profession. Event planning is a serious business, and we are responsible for the lives of our guests. We need to be insured, have intimate knowledge of fire safety, security, logistics, alcohol consumption laws, crowd control and flow, electrical safety and management, rigging safety, first aid, etc. I know that many people are great at picking what flowers match the table cloth, but that is a very small and insignificant part of event management and planning.
At Eventure, most of our interns are graduates of event planning courses. We recently had two graduates that interned for 7 months, and they are from France. We tend to have 3-4 interns in our office and any given time, and we make sure that their experience is complete and that they get a real taste of our business.
I tend to also hire from within our interns, rather than someone with years of experience from other companies. Knowing how the interns work for the 2 -7 month period means that they know how we work, they have proven their skill and passion, and that they also can tolerate working with us! Hiring someone with years of experience isn’t an asset in my mind. With experience comes both good and bad habits, it comes with an opinion on how things are done that may differ from our policies, and usually comes with an attitude.
There is a long list of great people that are working in the event industry in Montreal that started off as interns for me. Some have continued working for me and then went on to other companies, some completed their internships and moved on to be successful elsewhere, and some realized that event planning wasn’t really for them, and they found a career better suited for themselves. All of them make me proud to have been part of their successes.
I am never threatened to teach anyone anything of what I know about events, sound & lighting, catering, risk management, safety, bar, etc. I only wish when I was in my 20s there were more people willing to give me the time so I would have learned quicker and easier. When I was first teaching myself how to program lighting, it was a new field and there were a handful of guys in Montreal that knew how to use the console. Two specifically at Kloda at the time, Tom and Jacques. The difference between the two was amazing. Tom was super nice, and he was always there to answer questions, and he was super excited to work with me to learn and improve not only my understanding, but his as well. We were a great team, are friends to this day, and Tom is still programming and designing lighting, and is truly one of Canada’s best. Jacques on the other hand, when I asked him a question, told me “Why would I tell you, so you can take away my job?” Not sure where he is today. (And please don’t tell me, I don’t care)
Teaching to me is a privilege. If I can teach someone something about what we do, it not only makes their lives easier, but also helps me to refresh and rethink what we do. If they learn, it can not only help my company, but help our industry as a whole. If we give to the students, then they will learn, grow and give back to us one day.
Last week, a tent collapsed at Strangers in the Night and injured a young lady that we all know. (I wish her a speedy recovery). I used to be part of Strangers, and I am very proud to say that I helped in it’s infancy and designed and produced the event when it first moved to Fairview. I haven’t been part of the event for many years, as they have continued with the same basic concept we developed many years ago. But when I heard the tent fell, I called the tent company, and the event organizers and was willing to help them with myself and my entire team, if they needed. It wasn’t about money, it was about someone in our industry that may have needed some help in the time of need. I hope (G-d forbid) that if we should ever been in that situation, that our industry will be there to help us out too.
Daniella Caputo is one of the leading teachers of event management in Montreal http://montrealeventplanner.ca/ I have had the privilege of lecturing her class, as well as teaching a class in the same program as her. She spends more of her time teaching than working her own company! She told me that teaching events, after the many years that she’s been in the industry, is one of her true passions. She has scores of students that have gone on in the industry to great success because of her passion for teaching. Speaking with her, we are both on the same page of pushing forward an agenda to formalize our industry, and hopefully one day it will be a legal requirement to have accreditation to work in this industry, similar to medical, legal, construction and other industries.
If you are interested in event planning, and want more information on internships, education, or even have some questions to ask me. Feel free to email myself or Kaitlin ([email protected]) and we are always happy to help!