How to become an Event Manager: WHAT UNIVERSITY?

The last post of ‘How to…’ was a basic introduction to Events. This post however is all about University and whether it is what you should do. This was originally written on BlogByKobrak on the 12th January 2011 but has been updated to reflect on the increase in tuition fees and personal experiences. 

What I have learnt most through studying Event Management is that there is a lot to do and to take into account, when being an events planner, little things have to be done before you can move onto the next step.  In fact most of event management is the planning stage of the event rather than the operations  so forget meeting celebrities at the festivals and instead concentrate on the office and phone calls to countless different people. 

If you are thinking of studying event management at University or college, well firstly CONGRATULATIONS for knowing what you want to do and for picking such a brilliant industry! 
But onto the serious stuff, are you ready to embrace the weird hours and the ‘high’ seasons? Because this isn’t a 9 to 5 job, in fact it is anything other than that, for one of my jobs I was working 15 hours a day!

There are a lot more universities offering Event Management as a degree, either on it’s own or as a join course, It is still a new industry that is still finding its feet so experience is vital for when you graduate, and it might be better to look at universities offering a more practical course! 

Where should you apply to do event management?

This is a very important question and really in depends what you are looking for. I would firstly recommend one that offers a sandwich course (usually 4 years), because this gives you a years work placement working in the industry, which not only does it provides you with great contacts but a great opportunity to develop your skills. 


I am at the University of Gloucestershire therefore I have to suggest it as a place to study. It is a very practical course, which I think is great as Event management is a practical job, therefore it makes less sense to take lots of exams that test your ability to remember and not you ability to do. 
This University is based in and around Cheltenham and split into three campuses, Cheltenham has a lot of festivals such as the Cheltenham Literary Festival, the Gold Cup festival and Greenbelt festival.  There are countless events that happen throughout the year in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire which makes it a great place to gain experience through volunteering and internships to keep your CV updated with relevant experience in the event industry. 


I thought that Bournemouth University had a fantastic event course, & I know a few people who study here and they really love the location and find the teaching on their courses to be first rate. For obvious reasons I am unable to comment on the course but when I went to the open day they were very passionate about what they were teaching and the lecturers had a lot of experience in the industry,  they were keen on getting their students out doing work experience which is a major aspect to consider when applying to Uni.


Buckinghamshire New University was another one that I really likes, maybe not one of the most highly recognised Universities but the course is very practical. However you cannot just do event management you have to specialise in one of three different areas: Event and Festival Management,Corporate Events and Conference ManagementMusic and Live Event Management . This means that you need to know what area you want to work in before you take the course. The Uni is based in High Wycombe and isn’t to far from London which makes it a good location & one of my favourite things about this university was the fact you could do extra courses to add to your CV. 


The University of Greenwich is also a good university, however their course is much more buisness related and has a lot more exams and essays than the three above. Thats not to say it isn’t very practical, London is a fantastic place to be an Event Management student as there are a lot of companies based here and there are always events being held. Imagine being able to help at the 2012 Olympics or get to attend events at Earls Court. I’m lucky as I live just outside London and for me it is easy to travel in from home therefore I didn’t want to study so close to where I live.

I would say that picking a University isn’t easy or a quick process, especially now that tuiton fees have increased so dramatically. I only pay £3,000 (isn) per year and I doubt I would have gone if I had to pay £8,000. I hope that there is an increase of businesses that start to offer internships and training programmes for people who decide university isn’t for them.

Another piece of advice is don’t pay to much attention to the Times university list on where each university sits in the leader board, they are peoples personal opinions – instead go to lots of open days and hear each university talk about their course and what it offers you. Think of what YOU are LOOKING FOR, do you want lectures who have a lot of practical experience, a location that holds plenty of events for you to get involved in or somewhere that teaches you the practical skills?

It helps to talk to students who are currently at the university and studying the course as they will give you an honest opinion. UCAS tell you ALL of the universitys that provide Event Management courses.


If you have any questions please either leave a comment below or send me a tweet @Imdamnstudent @blogbykobrak

Work Experience: Keystone Conference and Event Management


(No real names shall be used in these posts unless I have been given permission)
Back in January 2011 I started my 2 month part time work experience at Keystone Conference and Event Management in Woodchester (in the Gloucestershire area.) Over the course of January and February I would help with aspects of the planning for the BBC Hands on History Roadshow and assist with the running of the event over the 5 day tour. 
It all started back in November 2010 when I started looking for somewhere where I could complete the 90 hours of work experience I had to do in order to pass one of my modules at university. I was unsure of where I should be applying and decided that I should ask my parents  if they knew anyone who works in the Event industry, both have significant contacts in the media industry due to their jobs. I was lucky as my dad got the email address for Jenny who owns and runs Keystone and who I contacted to see if she would be able to offer me any work experience. It was here that I learnt Events have on and off seasons, where by depending on what sort of events you plan, certain times of the year can be either really busy or really quiet. For Keystone’s work the Christmas period was quiet, and it wasn’t until the end of December  that I heard about an opportunity to help at a BBC event in February. I spend a majority of the Christmas break really excited and nervous about what I would be doing, even more so when it was arranged I would help with the planning of the event for a few days in January in between University classes. 
So when I went back to Cheltenham in January I also started my 6 days working in the Keystone office, it was an amazing opportunity and taught me a great amount but at the same time it was also one of the most nerve-racking things I have ever done. 
The first job I was given to do while in the office was to find and book the hotels for the 5 day tour. Starting in Cardiff on the 21st, Milton Keynes on the 22nd, Swindon on the 23rd, Derby on the 24th and lastly Newcastle Gateshead on the 25th. Now I had never booked a hotel on my own before, in fact all that is left to my mum when we go on holiday, but this was not a normal hotel booking, no this was a business booking for 6+ people on a company credit card. The hotels had to be near the venues, near the main roads and near the train station, the fact I cannot drive and have never been to more than half of the locations meant this was a lot harder than it sounds. Did you know you have to send a fax with the information to the hotels when booking on a company credit card and when it is a business stay? Nope, neither did I! I did this over a couple of days along with other work as details had to be changed and I was so scared things were going to go wrong that I just carried on ringing them to double and triple check details, I have a sneaky suspicion the hotels were starting to get annoyed with me. Luckily, or due to the fact I did everything right, nothing went wrong when we were on the tour in regards to the Hotels. 
The thing I found the most nerve-racking about being in the office was answering and using the phone, a simple task that I have been doing for years but none the less something that just freaked me out. I think it was knowing what to say that scared me as I have the tendency to ramble when I am nervous and I wanted to come across as professional. 
I was lucky to be able to go on and see the Queens Arcade Shopping centre in Cardiff, the venue for the first date of the Roadshow, while I was working in the office. The point of the trip was to see the space we would be stationed in, take some measurements, find our two satellite station spots and ask any questions about getting all the equipment into the shopping centre. It was an interesting experience in which I got my hand cut by the tape measure, be careful when someone lets go of the other side and it comes racing back to you, it was a painful lesson to learn. I found it interesting to hear the questions that were asked, and what information the event organiser needs, such as the plan in place in case of any emergencies. 
One of my favourite jobs, and the one I take most pride in, was finding the volunteers for the 5 locations. I suggested we look for university students who are doing Event Management courses as it is hard to find work experience in events and getting to work at the BBC Hands on History Roadshow would be a fantastic opportunity. I was really happy when Jenny agreed that would be a good idea. So for 2 days  I had to search for local universities that were in or around each of the locations; Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Swindon, Derby and Newcastle. Once I had found the Universities I wrote the volunteer brief,  a piece of paper that had to have a lot of information in it without having too much information, I was quite shocked to be asked to do that considering I had never done something like that before. It turned out rather well and I emailed myself a copy so that I could show my parents, yes I still get excited when I do well in something! I then emailed the course leaders of each University and asked if they would pass on the information about looking for volunteers to all their students and then waited patiently for people to contact us. This wasn’t a simple job, and over the course of the actual running of the event I learnt a great deal of things in relation to volunteers, mainly through problems that occurred. I feel that this part of the planning stage was the most valuable and taught me the most as it is something I will have to do in the future.
This office experience at Keystone taught me a great deal about what is involved with the planning of an event and how many different aspects you have to deal with, from suppliers to the clients as well as the venues and the health and safely aspects you have to take into account.   

How to become an event manager: INTRODUCTION

The original article was first published on BlogByKobrak on the 7th December 2010however this has been updated for this blog.

Event management is a job that sounds nice and exciting. And don’t get me wrong it can be, however when thinking about making this your career remember to add in the aspects that everyone has to face in their job. For example health and safety forms, risk assessments, applying for licences, emergency procedures and first aiders, budgets and staff & volunteers etc.

I wouldn’t say that I took this all into account, in fact even though I knew all of this I still thought most of working in events would involve more of the imaginative and exciting aspects rather than having to call up hotels and venues making sure they had received all the information for the booking and event.

The idea of the How to… series is to make sure you have a realistic outlook of the events industry, and understand what you will have to undertake once you start working. 

Over this series, I plan on talking about what a degree course teaches you and discussing why it is worth doing. This is aimed at informing people who are thinking of studying event management at a university stage but is also going to provide information and skills needed to ‘become an event manager.’

I have just completed my first year on the Event Management degree course at the University of Gloucestershire and therefore am at a position where I can inform you what a university course provides and well as giving you my own personal experiences and teaching you what I have learnt for work experience and university.

However it is vital that I point out that I am not an expert in this field, alas I am just a student providing information that I know I would find useful.

If you need any more information check out previous posts or email me at or tweet me @Imdamnstudent