Lindsey Collins was an intern at Moxley Carmichael and accepted a position – starting this week – with the International Biscuit Festival, which runs May 14-16 in downtown Knoxville. Before departing, Lindsey wrote this blog entry for EventCheck Knox outlining what she learned about event planning while working as an intern.
As an aspiring event planner, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how often public relations and event planning overlap. Though my resume listed quite a bit of event experience, I didn’t consider the obvious correlation between the two until after I arrived at Moxley Carmichael.
As my semester-long internship came to a close in May, it was impossible to leave without recognizing the impact it had on my current – and future – career.
Putting together an event can be tricky. Even the most experienced planners know that events are a force to be reckoned with – a type of controlled chaos, if you will.
My event experience ranged from weddings and city-wide festivals to all-inclusive productions at event venues. I even had assisted with some catering events.
Because I had been interested in event planning since early in my college career, I decided that after obtaining my associate degree I would throw myself into the aforementioned chaos to get hands-on experience – and boy, did I.
The amount of detail and structure it takes to plan a flawless event takes practice; often, several breakdowns can occur before achieving success. No matter the planning or time allotted prior to an event, something can go awry.
- Be prepared.
I feel this is the most important rule for any event. It is mandatory to have high standards and expectations for an event; it is necessary to understand that something could go wrong. Be ready to adjust course.
“If you’re having a meltdown, your guests will have a meltdown,” Miller said. “Stay calm throughout any situation and be able to make precise decisions.”
- Be direct.
When dealing with vendors and crews, it is crucial to be direct about what is expected. Otherwise, the clients’ standards might not be met, and the outcome reflects on the person they hired – you.
I accompanied Jennings on a pre-check of a venue before an evening event. When she and I arrived, Jennings noticed that the floors looked scuffed and suggested that they be buffed. When told the floors already had been cleaned, Jennings kindly but directly requested that they be buffed again. The floors were especially shiny that night.
- Ask for help.
Strategic planning is a team effort with all hands on deck. Part of creating the as-perfect-as-possible event is recognizing that no one can be two places at once. It’s important to seek assistance, especially for large events.
Lester, an expert event planner, recently helped the developers of The Island in Pigeon Forge coordinate the grand opening of Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, a two-night event held in a 20,000-square-foot building with over 500 people in attendance each evening. Lester got assistance from the Moxley Carmichael team, and we did whatever was needed to supplement the event – front door duty, crowd control and loading and unloading vehicles, while she coordinated every detail, including two full days of media interviews before the doors opened. Getting to snack on Southern fried chicken was an added benefit of helping at that event.
- Grunt work is necessary.
One of the best aspects of being an intern at Moxley Carmichael is that the company plans all-inclusive events. Stuffing envelopes, creating signs and picking up linens are small but essential steps to make a large event come together – and interns get to be involved.
However, these seemingly minor tasks aren’t just assigned to interns – everyone at Moxley Carmichael will pitch in to get the job done. No event can be great without grunt work, and that has been readily apparent with this team.
- Set yourself apart.
Anybody that has attended a Moxley Carmichael event knows that name tags are a priority. Confirming guest lists and creating personalized name tags are not always simple or easy tasks, but they make any event a little more polished. I learned it’s important to go that extra mile and give guests yet another reason to feel welcome.
Those are my top five takeaways from a five-month internship. I am living proof that hands-on experience at Moxley Carmichael prepares you for the real world. I am now event director for the International Biscuit Festival!
The internship also included tasks outside of event planning, such as public relations, media events and blog writing. I can honestly say I am more prepared than ever to hold my career to the highest standard thanks to the knowledge I gained.
Thank you, Moxley Carmichael!
Lindsey Collins enjoys traveling, unwanted cuddles with her cat, half-priced wine nights and the occasional large pizza (to herself). She will be the one who is completely calm this week amid the biscuit bedlam.