The constant echoing of advice from all Event Professionals (myself included) that experience is vital to gain a job in the events industry, whilst coming from a good place can sometimes be detrimental.
It can be detrimental because often it means you are forced to take on unpaid internships for long periods, and no matter what career you are aiming to work in the sad reality is that there is a vicious circle that all young people face when it comes to employment and experience.
We harp on about the concept that experience in your chosen job field is vital, but how can you get a job if you don’t have any previous experience? I’ve spoken countless times on why volunteer work is a great option, but I’ve also spoken out about the way people abuse unpaid interns.
I’ve faced the same problems, as have many of my friends and colleagues in the past. When you have no previous experience it is hard to get a job, which is why people always talk about how internships are what you make of them. If you go into the experience willing to give 110% – no matter the type of work you might be asked to do – people will take note, you will gain more opportunities, notice more things and learn an exceptional amount.
However there is a point where you need to understand your worth & stop only applying for internships or work experience where the skills needed are minimal, but the opportunity to learn in higher.
Why? Because you properly have the knowledge needed for a job with more responsibility!
I read a great interview with Tavi Gevinson, who at 14 was front row at many fashion shows due to her exceptionally good blog ‘Style Rookie‘ & now at 19 not only runs the fantastic Rookie Magazine but is forging a successful career as an actress. In this interview she talks briefly about the negativity she received when she first started out, mainly based on the fact she was so young;
That young people don’t have valid thoughts about the world because they haven’t been alive long enough is sadly a very popular and, frankly, unoriginal sentiment – Tavi Gevinson
When I express my opinion on big issues & how things could be done, my points often get dismissed to be a naive outlook on a situation. How could I know anything about the how things are done if I’ve only be in the world for 22 years?
When I was on my placement year I would go to so many client meetings where I wasn’t even acknowledged, they would only talk to my colleague even though for many of the events I was the person who did 85% of the work. Why? Because I didn’t look old enough.
The thing is I am not naive with my outlook on how to deal with problems, yes I am probably more optimistic but that’s not naivety, I just look at the same situation slightly different. And the thing is my age holds no impact on my ability to do a job, yes the more experience I get the better I will become, but just because I was 19 it didn’t mean I was less able than my colleagues at 28.
The thing is everyone has different skills and different experiences, the lessons you learn and the way that impacts how you work in the future will be vastly different to other people. But that is where you biggest selling point comes from. Because the way you look at a problem might only be a few degrees different from someone else – but it could the few degrees that make it a viable solution!
Collaboration, continuous learning and investment in development are just a few, of the many terms, that companies are throwing out there. Good organisations understand the value that young talent can bring, the insight and the way you look a things – which others may describe as naive – is a different outlook that can move businesses forward.
What I am trying to say, in an elongated way, is that you need to understand your own value.
Don’t get sucked into the ridiculous concept that you need to take on loads of unpaid internships because it is an opportunity to learn.
You need to understand that you have skills and insight that organisations want, and whilst you might have to undertake some unpaid experience it should not be something you do forever!
No matter what age you are, you have value to add.