Events is an industry that allows creatives and corporates alike to curate and co-exist like no other, a place where the impossible becomes possible, and a space where you can build a real connection between you and your guests/consumers in the space of minutes via experiences and emotions.
The increase in popularity and understanding of the MICE sector has of course led to an increase in event related degrees, diplomas and certifications. Though to some of the more seasoned professionals in our industry, those trying to ‘study their way’ into positions that years ago would have only been attainable after years of graft seem a little demanding and need to be doing more to prove themselves.
Which, honestly, can be a little daunting for students and graduates trying to make a name for themselves among people who may or may not perceive them as 'pushing their way in'.
As a newbie to this industry myself, and having gone through the transition from university to real life work – I can actually see where this sentiment about grads stems from. There are universities that are fantastic at ensuring that MICE students understand the importance of work experience alongside their degrees and reading around the subject, while others are maybe a little more curriculum based. Consequently some graduates have different views on what they should expect from working in events compared to their peers.
And of course there are generational differences in the way a graduate approaches things which might prove a bit of an additional barrier. One word that is always used somewhere on the same page as millennial during a ‘trying to understand how they work’ think piece is entitled.
While I disagree with this completely (it’s a lack of understanding and communication between the generations for sure), I do believe it is some of these generational differences that don’t do us any favours. One in particular, especially in the MICE industry:
We love (if not crave) approval.
I partly blame social media for this. ‘Look at me, am I doing this right?’ ‘Do you like it?’ ‘Can you endorse me?!’ 'Only x people liked that, maybe that wasn't a great idea!'
But in events, no one has the time for that. Let's not get confused, of course you will get praised for good work often (I hope). But it is so fast moving that you have to be prepared to be a doer – not a talker. Otherwise unfortunately you might get left behind, and this is likely where some of the misconceptions about students and graduates entering the sector comes from. They might not expect this when they leave the lecture hall and head out on site.
Fresh faced out of university you will be keen to put some of what you have learnt into practice, and while your bosses are supportive and will praise you from time to time, you have to understand that if you are doing something wrong you will hear about it. If you are doing what they pay you to do... keep it up!
I think the sooner we as a generation get our heads around the fact that real life interactions do not work like a social platform (you will work for weeks if not months on a project, it will happen, it will be amazing, and you will have approx. 3 hours to soak it all up before your next challenge begins. The glory is often found in the fact that you are getting more work, rather than never ending praise), the sooner others in our industry will see that we are here to work just as bloody hard as they did.
In simple terms, it's time we learnt to clap for ourselves instead of waiting for others to do it for us. If you love your work, you'll do it tirelessly and put everything into it. Even if they're not making a noise, people will notice and appreciate you. I think if we can make small changes in our work behaviours, it might just help to change the perception of students of MICE subjects – making it easier for the industry to evolve, attract and retain new talent each year.