In such an overcrowded market, how do you get an events job in London? There are so many different routes you can take, including apprenticeships, getting experience in events, and looking wider than event agencies themselves. Here’s my “been there done that” advice on how to get an events job in London.
Start from the bottom
That title sounds like starting from the bottom is a bad thing, when in reality, starting at ground zero was probably one of the most useful decisions of my career. I say decisions like I had a choice… Getting a job as an assistant is a sure way to make sure you know your craft. It will provide you with the ability to say “been there done that” to many tasks and jobs in your future.
Working as an assistant means you eventually will get the overall vision of how the industry works. Not only the vision but the feel of how it is to be in that position. This has served me particularly well at later stages in my career, as I know how it feels to be asked to make 350 name badges. SNORE.
Don’t be narrow-minded
If you’d have asked me when I was 16 what sort of events I wanted to do, I’d probably have said wedding planner. Shiny, sparkly pretty things, are what everyone thinks of. I applied for SO many wedding planning jobs and struggled to get anywhere because it’s such an overcrowded market.
There are so many routes to get you to the same end goal. If you want to be a wedding planner, don’t discount corporate. It’s such a valuable experience, and you might fall in love with them on the way (speaking from experience). You could work for a caterer, you’ll be put through your event management paces there! London has some of the best event caterers out there (a few of my favs are Bubble, Caper & Berry, and TableTalk), and they can give you access to some of the most amazing venues.
Experience is key
I fully appreciate that this point is an absolute pain in the arse, a continuous catch 22 of needing a job to get experience, and vice versa. However, there are ways around it. I’m sorry to say that sometimes you might have to suck it up and work for free. My first few wedding clients I got by putting an add on GumTree and working for free because I knew I needed portfolio images and testimonials. Offer your time to local event agencies, even if you end up packing boxes on-site, you can say that you have some experience in an on-site team. I’ve hired people before with no experience, sometimes organising something as simple as a McMillan coffee morning is enough to get you through. And you’re doing a good deed. Double pat on the back.
Take a course
OK I’m not entirely sure I agree with my own point here. I’ve done two event courses, and I’ll be honest, they were both a load of crap. The didn’t teach me anything, BUT I’m not sure how much I have myself to blame for that as I’d already been working in events when I went.
Now I’m not saying this will ever replace on the job training because personally, I don’t think it ever will. Events is a practical job which can only be taught in practice, not from a book. It does, however, show to potential employers that you’re committed and dedicated to learning your trade. They will also teach you the real basics of how to write a good to-do list, the things you need to think about, and so on. But this advice is really for those who are starting from zilch.
I do however fully support apprenticeships. They’re a great way to get on the job training and a professional qualification simultaneously. You can find apprenticeships here on the Gov website.
Events is a desirable industry to get into, and therefore you will find on lots of websites jobs which say events, but are far from it. Sometimes they’re tricky to spot, but reading between the lines you can work it out. I’ve included some examples below which I’ve just found, what the title advertised is vs what the job actually is:
Event sales manager: Selling a meeting room in Hilton or equivalent hotel
Hospitality event co-ordinator: Bar staff
Event Crew: Forklift driver
Special events manager: Club promoter
Meeting and Events Team Member: Tea bitch
If you do accidentally apply for one of these jobs, don’t worry, they are sneaky. Go for the interview anyway, all experience is good experience.
I hope you found this article useful, and that it’s given you some things to think about. The events industry is a bloody brilliant world, and once you finally break through the door, it will be worth it. Good luck, and I hope you find an events job in London soon!