If These Event Walls Could Talk…

It is not often that you meet someone who inspires you to fight against all odds and follow the road less traveled toward your own success. In 2012, I had the pleasure of taking a Special Event Management course -my first course in the NYU Meeting, Conference and Event Management certificate program- taught by Annette Babich; a 20 year veteran in the event industry.  While we did learn the fundamentals of special event planning, Annette also made sure to share her wisdom and crazy stories from her years planning events.

I left her class feeling like I could definitely start my own event planning business and eventually leave the 9-5pm corporate world behind me. She inspired me to go for it and I hope she can inspire you as well. I asked Annette recently to share some of her insight  with my readers. Check out what she had to say below.

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If These Event Walls Could Talk…

No matter the size of an event, 5 to 50,000 attendees, there are always people working diligently to make sure that event goes off without a hitch.  The attendees usually have no clue who these people are, as they are behind the scenes working like Santa and his elves making miracles happen with the point of a finger and the stroke of a pen.

Networks such as WeTV, Bravo, TLC etc., have removed the masks from some of these mythical magicians and pulled back the curtains so that the every day person can see what it truly takes to execute an event.  While these shows are based in the truth, most of them walk the fine line between fiction and the hard truth because they edit out the “raw” realities of working in the industry.

After speaking to a few friends in the events world, it’s obvious that everyone has interesting stories, words of advice and cautionary tales to share regarding working in this truly stressful yet rewarding environment. They know the raw reality and they are ready to share it (Well some of it… can’t give away all the secrets ;)).

Meet Janine Miller

I’ve known Janine for many years and can confidently say that she rarely has anything less than a smile on her face! She works in a fast paced ever-changing environment yet manages to make it seem like she waves her magical wand and gets stuff DONE! She definitely has more than a few stories and tips to share with people interested in entering event planning or curious about what really goes on behind the scenes while you are enjoying your filet and chicken entree.

janine millerWhere are you currently employed and what do you do?

I work at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios in the Communications and Event Marketing department.

How did you get into the event marketing industry?

Having worked on the media and agency side of public relations in the past, I found that  assisting with events, RSVPs, meet and greets, floor lay-outs, booking hotel/venue blocks etc., came along with the role. Being that it was a part of my day-to-day, I naturally became interested in seeing an event through from beginning to end. In the process I transitioned from communications to a more media relations and event marketing focus.

What is the craziest thing you were asked to do for or during an event?

I was asked to work on an event with less than 24 hours notice. Oh, and did I mention it was in another state?!

What do you find difficult about working in this field?

Long hours and my being on my feet!  It usually takes a good 6-8 months out to plan most events while others are at the drop of a hat. A lot of work and long hours go into planning an event.  In addition to the long hours, I am always running around (never in comfortable shoes – ahhh the life of Corporate America!) and your feet are very angry with you towards the end of the night!

What is something that you deal with as an event planner that others may not realize from the outside looking in?

Everyone thinks that you are always at some big party having fun and engaging with everyone else because you are in this field. That is not the case at all. Yes you try to remember to have fun while you are there but first and foremost you are there to work. Most of the time you leave tired, hungry and never realize because your adrenaline kept you afloat throughout the night.

Is there any advice you would give someone interested in entering this field?

Stick to your guns.  Asses your skills. If you’re creative and have great people skills, but could use some help getting organized, look into getting event software or buying books on planning event so that you can become educated on the many elements in the field of event planning.  

Practice makes perfect – start to plan a few events on your own and build a portfolio.

Have you ever been starstruck or nervous around anyone while working an event?

Two words. Michael Ealy.

michael ealy and janine