The event and venue management business is an alluring line of work. There are always lots of questions when I tell people what I do for a living, which is fun at parties. We get to be around some really cool things, and once in a while, we might even get to see some of those cool things. (Very rarely do we get to watch an event—remember, we are working!) I consider myself very lucky to have been able to forge a career in this industry. I had some great mentors along the way who taught me the skills to operate a facility, expanded my capacity for leadership and who opened the doors to future opportunities.
Out of respect to those who helped me pave my way, I feel a tremendous sense of obligation to pay their efforts forward. I eagerly share my experiences, offer assistance, and teach. Working on a college campus afforded me the opportunity to fulfill this obligation by participating in the higher education experience for our student employees. During my time at Long Beach State and UC San Diego, I created very robust internship and event staff programs. These programs had specific learning outcomes that were focused on rounding out our students’ educational experiences. The objective was that the work experience would supplement our students’ academic studies and prepare them for a career, regardless of their chosen field. For the program to work, it had to be mutually beneficial. It was our intention to meet our educational responsibilities to our student employees, while also significantly contributing to the successful operation of our event venue. Staff and interns were critical. The venues simply could not run without people in place who were effectively contributing.
A common criticism of Millennials and Generation Z is that they carry a heavy sense of entitlement and don’t value hard work, nor do they understand a traditional work environment. I don’t agree with this characterization, but do think higher education is missing the mark in terms of preparing young people for work and life. On a college campus then, event venue operators are in a unique position to help students bridge this gap with real work experience.
I have worked with hundreds of students in my 10+ years on college campuses and the truth is very few of them end up working in sports venue management. This is expected. Event and venue management is a small industry with relatively few opportunities. The skills learned in this environment however, are of critical importance and are broadly applicable. It is humbling to hear from former student-employees who have gone on to create amazing careers for themselves and attribute some of their success in transitioning to the working world to their experiences on our staff.
Venue management experience is valuable because it is a multi-disciplinary vocation. Beyond preparing students for their career by teaching work and life skills, event venue operations also exposes students to a wide variety of job skills, which often help guide their academic interests.
Some of the related careers, students working in event venues gain familiarity with are:
- Customer Service
- Project Management
- Property Management
- Building Trades
- Contract Management (Negotiation/Fulfillment)
- Staff Management/HR
- Life Safety
- Construction Management
- ADA Accessibility
- Event Planning
- Event Production
Speaking for myself, by gaining proficiency in a wide diversity of competencies, I have become a generalist. I know a good amount about a lot. I can see the big picture and can anticipate downstream effects. I also know who to call when I need an expert. I am, in essence, a project manager. My base skill is to connect people, services, venues, and equipment in order to accomplish a specific task on a hard timeline. Along the way, I create systems to improve both efficiency and effectiveness and manage people and crises.
Whether earned through talent or grit, event management and venue operations requires a specific taste. I have that taste. I love what I do and I am good at it. Stylehawk Event Services was borne out of the realization that event operations and venue sourcing is often considered a necessary evil that frustrates and confuses event promoters. Booking event venues is both science and art. The skill required is often underestimated, despite the fact that the facilities side of planning an event is absolutely critical. Failure to understand event operations can create a domino effect that impacts all areas of the event and ultimately limits success. There is no reason for events to stumble on this nor is there margin for error; we are here to help!