As event professionals, learning is an on-going process. One of the marks of a GREAT LEADER in the EVENTS INDUSTRY is FRESH AND FORWARD THINKING that is always advancing and a step ahead of what clients expect. So as students across South Florida gathered in college classrooms this Fall and Winter season, KONCEPT EVENTS was invited to multiple campuses to impress upon the events industry professionals of tomorrow why their education is not just about what is happening in their classrooms now, but also about gaining as much experience in a variety of roles in the field, embracing creativity, and finding out that there is not one approach to becoming an event professional.
The first guest speaker experience in this two part series takes place at FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY. KE PARTNER ANGIE NELSON AND DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT COURTNEY LOHMANN participated on a panel of speakers in Professor Peter Ricci’s “Meetings and Events Management” course. As a long time industry expert in hospitality, Professor Ricci has served in roles in management across hotels, DMC’s, and DMO’s. “I valued each and every client and try to instill that same philosophy with the students,” Ricci shared. The purpose of his course is to provide students with a 30,000 foot overview of the meetings and events industry, including what types of jobs are available. The Q&A panel consisted of 3 experts; two from KE. Here is a sampling from what was shared:
Q: How did KE become a participant on this panel?
CL: About a year ago KE was looking for an intern to work on our largest client, NUTRA BLEND’S, “Customer Incentive Trip” program. We actually reached out to Professor Ricci at that time for help in filling this position.
AN: After the initial development of this relationship, we remained in contact with Professor Ricci, who has been a supporter of our KE brand. He later asked for our organization to speak to his class, as often as our busy schedule permits.
CL: Both Angie and I have an interest in mentoring and so, naturally, this was a great fit and we wanted to jump at the opportunity.
AN: And we will continue to look to this program for quality interns and even potential employees after they have gained experience so we want to support the school in its efforts to educate students.
Q: What about this program causes you to continue to work with FAU?
AN: FAU has one of the best programs in the country and their students in the hospitality program have to do 1000 hours in the industry before they can graduate. The structure of the program is really supportive of the kids getting out there to gain real life experience.
Q: Would KE continue to send staff as guest speakers to speak to students in this program?
AN: Yes and it would not necessarily be Courtney and I again. There are so many different perspectives within our own organization that can speak to the various roles inside a DMC that we would happily have more staff contribute their own unique experiences. There’s a lot of value in that for the students; to see there are many paths you can take and there isn’t one box you have to fit yourself in to. This is a very creative industry and there are a lot of ways to get involved.
Q: How did you feel speaking to the next generation?
CL: When I shared with students my career path and how I began in sports and then ended up in festivals, I could see the students eyes open and they realized how many OTHER ways they could go about participating in meetings and events. I think a lot of times students go into these studies thinking of hospitality as hotels and restaurants. I love being able to show the students that there are more options than that in the hospitality field!
AN: I really enjoy helping them understand how to go out there and get a job in the industry. What to do and what not to do, from the perspective of someone that is actually doing the hiring in the industry. It’s great to broaden their horizons and paint a wider scope for them to see there really is a spot in this industry for anyone.
Q: What were the student’s reactions to your presentation?
AN: A lot of them said how much fun our presentation was. They were really appreciative of our time and several of them took our business cards and want to reach out. It’s great to be a resource for those students that really want careers in this industry. We also are providing them with job descriptions to help them continue to grow and maybe one day fill those roles.
Q: Did the students really seem to get what a DMC was at the end of it all?
AN: The students had learned so much in their studies of the section and they had invested time in reviewing our website before we came to campus. So it was very impressive how much they understood and then you could see how much more of an understanding they gained after speaking with us. Understanding a DMC is not always easy but I think an experience like this gives them such greater perspective and empowers them to be better prepared for their careers.
Our second guest speaker experience took place at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY with a Koncept Events Senior Sales Manager. Join us for more on this experience and to understand the value and importance of communicating and educating future event professionals. Support your local schools.