The Careers Adviser: 'What's the best way to get into events organising? And how can I move from IT technician to teaching maths in schools?

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The Independent Online

Get organising

Q. I'm 19, and I've been stuck in a dead-end job for the past year. I am interested in becoming an events organiser, but have no idea how to get started.

A. The events and exhibitions industry is growing rapidly, and those in the business say that anyone who is enthusiastic should be able to get in on the ground floor. Most major firms recruit as vacancies arise, while the smaller organisers who make up the majority of the industry are usually looking for people who can hit the ground running.

There are three major areas in this business: sales, marketing and operations. Each requires different skills. There are many event management courses out there, but formal qualifications aren't required to enter the industry. If you don't have experience of any of the above, you should expect to start in a junior position. But if you are motivated and able to achieve results consistently to deadline, and if you work well as part of a team, your career can develop quickly.

This is an industry that thrives on networking. Hilary Lawson, director of the Association of Events Organisers (www.aeo.org.uk), advises visiting some of the big public shows and speaking to the organisers. "Work experience can be very useful when looking for your first position, and it is up to you to approach companies and find a placement," she says. "Timing can be crucial: if an employer receives an application a few weeks before a big show, they may well need an extra pair of hands."

If you are planning to gain a qualification or to train, take a look at www.ucas.com or www.learndirect.co.uk. The AEO website has both careers advice and an online jobs board, so you can have a look at the range and type of roles being advertised. The AEO's members also include a number of specialist recruitment agencies – see the section at www.aeo.org.uk/suppliers.

A head for figures

Q. At the age of 24, I am already becoming disillusioned with my working life. I'm currently an IT technician. I have always had a head for maths and would like to teach, ideally at primary-school level. I can't afford full-time education.

A. If you are thinking of teaching, you should think about trying to get experience working or shadowing in schools. That way, you'll be able to show you know about the profession and have started to work with young people and gather the necessary skills; you need these things on your personal statement when you apply to train. A stint in a school would also give you an insight into whether teaching really is for you. Approach local schools – IT skills are enormously appreciated everywhere, and you do have something to offer in return, even if only casually.

Look at www.teach.gov.uk for an explanation of all the ways into teaching. If you haven't a degree, you can work as a teacher and be paid a (small) salary, for example (the Registered Teacher Programme), or if you have a degree you can try to do the same thing on the Graduate Teacher Programme, or take a postgraduate training course (PGCE) part-time over two years and keep a job going.

There are also routes into schools as an assistant, and you can work up from there – although again pay levels are low. You say you would also consider teaching maths at secondary level – there has been a shortage of maths teachers, so this is a good subject to go for. If you stick with primary schools you should also be welcome – there is a shortage of male teachers at that level.

Careers adviser: Michael Cox, careers consultant, www.dominocareers.co.uk.

Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or email to chaydon @blueyonder.co.uk

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