By Murphy, CEM, National Sales Manager, Fern Expositions
We have the distinct pleasure and advantage of working in a very exciting and fast-paced industry. Our industry is also probably one of the most misunderstood! There are so many facets to this industry. Have you ever had to explain what your job is only to have someone say, “Oh, all you guys do is plan parties.” Did you just want to choke them?
When I first got involved with this industry, I had no clue of the vastness of it. In fact, my first entré into the industry was as a member of an advisory board for a convention center. It was there that I started learning about what goes into having events, particularly conventions and exhibits. I learned about the efforts of the CVB and their partnerships with hotels, convention centers, destination management companies, transportation companies, caterers, floral providers, and even local musicians and other entertainers.
Eventually, I got a job working for a local supplier in that city, but even then I had no real appreciation for the industry. Like most of us who have been involved with this industry for more than 15 years, it was not something that I studied for in college. In fact, when I was in college there may have been a program for hotel management, but that was it. I actually studied political science and economics, and then bounced around from economic development to banking to finally getting a job with an exposition company.
Even with that, I don’t believe I really started to recognize and appreciate the industry until coming to DC. One of the first bits of advice I received when coming here with my current job was to “get involved with some industry organizations.” That has turned out to be the BEST advice I could ever have been given. It wasn’t until I got involved that I really started to understand the scope of this industry.
Starting with the DC chapter of IAEE, I jumped right in and got involved with committees, community service projects, and special events.
After attending Krakoff Leadership Institute (KLI) as the result of a scholarship from the DC chapter, I was challenged to start CEM training, and I rose to the challenge. I then volunteered on the special events committee for the chapter, and the rest is HISTORY!
Because of “getting involved,” I now have a deep appreciation for this wonderful industry and the many facets of it. I want to encourage everyone who is thinking about industry involvement to DO IT! Jump in with any of the many volunteer opportunities that come up.
No matter whether you are on the supplier side or the planner side of this industry or whether you’re just getting started or have a few miles on this road, you will find “It’s Not a Job – It’s an Adventure!”