The Merit of an internship for Post Graduate Event Students and the hero’s of our industry who open their doors.
The interns themselves, can only appraise the value of an internship. To create a worthwhile program we need to investigate what tangible value the candidates want to achieve from the time spent working alongside the great and good of industry.
In most cases, candidates are looking for “opportunity”. The opportunity to learn, get a steel toecap boot in the door of the event world and potentially gain employment. All of which is entirely achievable and possibly the very best way of launching a career in what is a notoriously difficult sector to break.
One of the many upsides to the employer is home grown talent, imbedded into the company culture and with a naturally increased sense of loyalty. To extract the most from the upsides, a well thought out and structured program needs to be in place.
It is apparent that most students haven’t found the area of the business they would naturally fall into. Understandable considering they have only been exposed to a classroom environment and theory.
Every rookie event student, is convinced they want to “do music events” or “plan famous weddings”. Once they have gained some knowledge in class they begin to understand that you don’t “do” music events. They require a somewhat more complicated approach and require the input of many – the question is then, which of the many am I?
To truly probe the potential of each candidate and help them discover their rightful seat, they should be exposed to as many areas of the organisation as possible. Overlooking the next creative genius or logistics hero because they are struggling in the production department and not given the opportunity to shine naturally, would be counter productive.
However gently we introduce our intern to the huge world of an event agency, they will in their head be standing on the edge of a very, very high diving board, with a huge amount to prove and no way of measuring their success. A structured feedback mechanic should be at the very core of the internship program, the candidates need regular appraisals and clear direction on their performance to be able to improve or be motivated to continue.
Getting buy-in from the current workforce is key to the success of any internal change, especially if the project relies on their input. Internships could be regarded as a waste of valuable time that most employees don’t have. There will be an un-doubtable perceived addition to the existing workload, which needs to be addressed before the program starts.
Historically the existing workforce have a number of fears, some irrational and many very valid.
There is no point in getting on a soapbox to claim any different; Interns do initially have a drain on resource. It’s important to note that successful candidates are selected and generally come with a high graded qualification in event management. The selection process ensures high achieving, quick learning individuals who, if given the structure to learn, will very quickly begin to be a real asset to a department rather than a drain.
Those who work closely with the interns will begin to take ownership of them, they will start to form a working relationship based on trust. The intern quickly becomes a vital member of the team with defined roles and a scope carved out by their current ability. Constant evaluation and appraisals prevent stagnation in the learning process, driving the intern to learn more and push boundaries.
Ownership of the program should rest with a single point within the organisation to provide the support line for interns and mentors. Essentially, a soundboard for all the stakeholders from board level to the new recruits. The point of the internship is to grow talent from within, to foster learning and ensure everyone involved, is on the same journey with the same goals, the program owner has the mandate to make sure this is the case.
The selection process should be rigorous and look for those that are not just qualified but stand out as curious individuals who demonstrate the want and desire to be extraordinary. We can teach the good working practices and the skill needed to survive the corporate environment; we cannot inject passion and the sparkle that separates out the award winning talent of the future.
If you’re a graduate thinking about entering the huge wide world of the event industry, you have completed your course or education and now want to forge ahead with your career, then you need to consider your placement and apply the greatest of scrutiny. This is your first chance to burst out of the traps and show the world what you are capable of. If the host company doesn’t have the correct systems in place to harness your talent and nurture the next phase of your education, then you could end up a busy fool.
If you’re one of those amazing organisations that offers the chance to the next generation and genuinely sees the benefit, then we applaud you and trust you with what is essentially the future of this fabulous thing we call a job.
Good luck to all of you, if Terbell Event Courses UK can be of any help we would love to hear from you. Our experience within the event industry and the development of event student’s through internships on a global stage is what drives us.
Executive Producer & Founder of Terbell Event Courses UK