The things you NEED to know when running events at Uni!

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Picture by Andre Freitas (via Unsplash)

It is full steam ahead with all the final prep for The Student Sessions (less that two days away!!) But don’t worry I am not writing another post about #TSS – I fully understand and appreciate that A) a third week of the ‘same’ info would be pretty boring, and B) not all of you are able to travel down to International Confex.

However this whole experience has reminded me of my second year practical event module. Where we had to create an event that matched our clients brief. I should let you know that my experience was not great, I learnt a lot about different people’s work ethic and the value of having EVERYTHING written down, but because of how terrible this module was I feel it is only right to pass on some advice.

The tips I wish I had known (or actually paid attention too!), so if you are having to undertake this same module or happen to be planning your own event then hopefully these will help!

Keep minutes of all meetings. You may be working with friends, and you may even go in to the experience thinking the whole process will be great fun because you know each other really well – NO. Fundamentally everyone works different, and yes when you enter the working world there are company procedures that everyone follows and works by, however at university some people leave all their work till the night before the final deadline, whilst others get it done weeks in advance. The problem is it is hard work making sure everyone works to the same sheet of music, and you will encounter some issues along the way. A written record of what everyone said and is supposed to be doing will be a LIFE SAVER!

Have job roles. I cannot stress how important this is, it is also something my group failed to do & I know it would have made the experience slightly easier. Job roles mean people are held accountable for their own work (or lack of it), it also means there is someone in charge to crack the whip when deadlines are missed. This university module is unstructured and people will give it various levels of dedications – some more than others. Team roles distribute the work evenly.

Don’t worry if you can’t have weekly group meetings. If people have jobs or pre-organised plans then don’t stress if the whole team can’t make the meetings. It is a ridiculous thing to get stressed about & all you need to do is make sure everyone knows what their list of jobs is. Email across the main points from the meeting, which is easy as you’ve kept minutes for all your meetings!

Use the Phone. If you are working for a client or are trying to get hold of a supplier and they don’t reply to your email – give them a call. I know it can be scary and intimidating to do that but it takes hardly anytime. Also people get really busy and replying to emails often becomes a low priority as the day goes on, it is a lot easier to speak on the phone than to write down an email response.

Give it everything YOU have. If the rest of the group are not as involved as they should be you have to be proactive and change that. Address the problems before they become bigger!

Listen to the client. Whilst you personally might think a bake sale element is the most interesting idea for a fundraising event, if the client wants it then give it to them! The module is looking at how you work as a team and create an event that fits with what the client wants. It will also be partially marked via clients feedback.

Stick to the deadlines. It might seem like you have months to get the event planned, that also might seem like a really long time BUT I can tell you from experience that weeks go by really quickly! It is vital that you have everything in place so there is no opportunity for any last-minute panic’s!

Don’t compare. Don’t compare other teams events to your, they are not the same – everyone has a different client! Also if your group isn’t working well together and your friends group seems perfect – what are you gaining? Nothing.

Make sure it gets done! If you feel like there is still loads to do and people aren’t pulling their weight then get it done. Stop complaining and start doing. Simple fact of the matter is it needs to happen, you want the event to represent what you are good at – then you sometimes just have to take on more jobs! As I said before – give it everything YOU have!

You guys might have better advice to give, I completed this part of my course over 2 and a half years ago (have to keep reminding myself that I am now a full-grown Graduate!) BUT it was one of the  main things I spoke about during placement interviews.

Granted my group event was not easy or much fun, it did – however – teach me a lot about how I work independently and with others. I know that personally I found it very hard to delegate, if jobs were not getting done I just went and did them instead of tackling the problem of why others weren’t doing their work! I know that stubbornness played a part in why we didn’t get on as a team & I therefore have to take on some of the blame alongside team members who didn’t do much. Learning to acknowledge your own faults is an important process!

I am very glad to say that nothing like this has happened with The Student Sessions, in fact it has been an absolute blast! Maybe it’s because we’ve got a ton more experience in planning and running events or because this is an area that both Elena and I are extremely passionate about!

Let me know in the comments the things you wish you had been told when planning events at Uni & working in teams! 

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