Connect yourself to a career in Event Management at Centennial College
There’s an old stereotype about college: It’s for partying. We all know that college isn’t actually dedicated to partying like the media implies, but there’s a place for that partying in college, in that you can make a career out of it. In every group of friends, there’s the planner. Maybe they host parties, or they’re the one that naturally puts everything together. If you’re that person, there is, a career for you, thanks to Centennial's Event Management program.
Festivals and conferences are the parties of the professional world, and they’re a key part of the tourism industry. The program is a one-year graduate certificate where you’ll be able to enhance your planning skills with both theoretical and practical knowledge and learn about human resources, marketing, business administration and operations. Kaila McCombs was a student of the program, a Tourism graduate who returned to college to gain some practical skills to go with her education. Not only would the program give her those skills, but it would lead her to a position as Event Coordinator at Mansfield Ski Club in Mulmur, Ontario.
Coming to Centennial
Over her long educational career, Kaila always came back to travel and tourism, simply because it was second nature to her, having grown up in Wasaga Beach.
“Growing up in a tourist town where tourism, events, and recreation was the base of my childhood, I have always been around it,”she says. “That got me thinking about what a life as an event coordinator would be like, and the rest is history.”
“I did not know where or what I wanted to specialize in just yet, so I e-mailed every Toronto university or college that offered an event program, and even schools out west,”she says. “The first person to get back to me was Bob Dallas, program coordinator of the Festival, Event, and Conference Management Post-Grad at Centennial College.”
“I wasn’t finished with school, but I wasn’t ready for another 2-3 years either,”she continues. “If I could graduate in a year with a post-grad, that would be great. I was very happy that this program would cover all aspects of the event industry, and that we would be taught by professionals who were very much involved in the industry.”
“The program was inviting, multicultural, challenging, but most importantly very educational and fun,”Kaila says. “We were taught from professionals to be professionals.”
“No matter what ‘event” path you wanted to take, this program prepared you for everything, even if you thought it didn’t matter to you, because it likely would in your career,” she says. “From knowing how to decorate on a budget to key networking skills, everything we were taught has a strong purpose behind it. After graduating, I felt more than ready to apply for an entry-level position and felt very positive that I would be a true candidate”
“What sticks in my mind is networking, networking, networking,” she says. “We were basically pressured into opening up to people, smiling, starting conversations, and really get our names out there. Just because we were students, it didn’t mean we were any less important or in tune with the industry than the professionals.”
On the job
Kaila’s education would eventually lead to her becoming the Event Coordinator at Mansfield Ski Club, a position that takes advantage of her new skills.
“I get to plan and coordinate all social events at the club along with other programs like yoga, art workshops, group event days, etc.,” she explains. “The task list is endless. I absolutely love my career here, not only because I am doing what I love to do, but the people I work with and the members and guests are simply amazing. I work with all departments of the club to make sure everyone is having a great time at Mansfield Ski Club. My favourite thing about my job is getting to see people smiling, laughing, and truly having a great time at the events I’ve coordinated.”
“This is a fast-paced, multi-task, somewhat stressful career,” she cautions, “but if you love what you do and you are able to always have a smile on your face, even under pressure, pursue your interest and apply.”
Words of wisdom
Having spent time in the industry, Kaila is able to pass on wisdom to new students about how to get into the event management industry, and stay there. “Achieve at least two years of experience before graduating,” she says. “I worked within the industry every summer between semesters, volunteered for local or even non-local events. You do not have to work as an event coordinator to get experience, you can serve at banquets, do security at large events, lead a team of volunteers or work within a summer events set-up crew.”
“This industry is very competitive, but don’t let that hold you back,” she says. “The more outgoing and involved you are, the easier it will be for you to not only find an event job, but find one that you want and love.”
“Centennial College was a great choice for me,” she concludes. “I was able to make lifetime friends from all around the world and learn that a great event is a great event no matter where you are in the world.”
By Anthony Geremia