What's it like to study... Events Management

Events Management is about much more than organising parties, says Ruth Stone, who studied at Manchester Metropolitan University

If you had asked me to describe 'events' as a teenager, I would have told you it was all about glamorous parties, weddings and celebrities. When the Commonwealth games came to Manchester in 2002 and I saw the spill-over effects in my local city, it certainly changed my mind!

The event was a catalyst for developing Manchester, and the community spirit was palpable. Today I am proud to say I’m from Manchester because it is an amazing city with lots to offer – something the Commonwealth games and more recent events have revealed. With the latest mega event, The London 2012 Olympics, it’s easy to see how the vast and far reaching the events industry truly is and how Events Management as a career can take you round the world.

I was a mature student coming back into education and was advised to study a Foundation year. Although at first this felt like a negative step for me, I soon realised how much satisfaction and confidence it gave me to put the work in and come out with top marks – something I had never achieved in school. It provided a basic grounding for events as a topic, but also familiarised me with studying and valuable techniques. For the first time in a long time I was proud of myself and doing something positive. It was hard work, but it was worth it when I saw the results, and of course I progressed onto the degree programme.

The topics were based on management and business but from an events perspective covering a range of subjects from marketing, accounting, economics, HR, risk and legal implications, to sustainability, sponsorship and even running our own event projects. There were some great field trips like Alton Towers, Spy Games and The BBC Good Food Show, which really helped apply the in class learning to live situations. I found events to be such a vast industry and some of the subjects surprised me, now I know how to alter aesthetics to create different atmospheres, the danger of bouncy castles, and how to apply environmental standards, but my study also helped me improve my management styles and understand cross cultural laws and communications. 

The lecturers at Manchester Metropolitan University were brilliant, they all had working knowledge of the events industry and their passion and enthusiasm for the topic made it exciting to learn and inspired me especially when workloads were high and deadlines were approaching!

Students were encouraged to volunteer and get involved in a variety of events throughout our course, I honestly believe the more you put into your learning the more you get out of it and so I got stuck in. I have had lots of fun and amazing experiences working at events and made some great contacts for the future. I started off small working at a local bonfire night, but worked up to more responsible positions like artist liaison at Creamfields, assisting at a fashion show, or managing a team of stewards at Glastonbury. Some of my favourite events, though, have seen me in less glamorous roles, like collecting feedback from event customers. This has given me insight into customer preferences for my own events in the future. I also enjoyed coordinating a waste management team at BBC Proms in the Park in Salford - this was a great experience of an important issue within events.

There was an opportunity to take a placement year – and of course, who would turn down the chance to work abroad? I went to America for a year where I worked for Hilton and had the most amazing time. I met so many great people from around the world and gained valuable work experience in hospitality, tourism and events. It was tough being away from home, but I have so many great memories and experience to offer future employers.

The best and hardest part of the dissertation is the self-study, and choosing your own topic. I chose to examine the economic effects of the MBNA Chester Marathon, something I would not have previously thought relevant to events! Once I started researching I realised there are so many integral interlocking social and economic aspects to events, and just how important they are to society. It’s not just about conferences, concerts and sports - it’s about bringing people together for a shared purpose or experience, and enriching lives.

My degree was about developing my career, but I also saw it as a personal achievement. I continued to work part time to cover the costs of studying and I feel this has enhanced my life skills, such as time management and organisation – also essential for events! Managing all this and meeting deadlines was certainly a challenge and there were moments when I wondered what I was doing. However studying a degree has taught me I can do it and I loved every moment. Events management is not a glamorous topic as you might think, nor is it easy, but there are so many exciting and fun aspects of events. Now when I tell people I studied Events Management, and they ask “What will you do now, organise parties?”  I’ll tell them I can do anything from developing my community, raising awareness, representing my country, or traveling the world!

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