Pathways to the Profession
Collegiate conferences and events provide many different career opportunities, each one contributing to the campus event planning team. Below, you’ll find information on the many dynamic areas of growth in our industry.
ACCED-I offers professional development training and resources if you are interested in a career in collegiate conferences and events. If you’d like to learn more about a particular job, get in touch with the Student Development Action Team or representatives from our Ask-a-Professional program to be put in touch with a ACCED-I professional who can answer your questions about their career.
Conferences and events foundationally rely upon two critical components; planners and facilities. Planners can’t make the events happen without facilities, and facilities don’t work for the planners without effective facility coordinators and managers. Positions in this area prepare, operate and maintain all equipment needed and reserved by clients for their conference or event. Event technicians, facility managers, custodians, and laborers are all roles critical to a successful conference or event.
Some consider summer conferences the bread and butter of our field. Most college campuses operate in a much leaner fashion over the summer months which provides an opportunity to generate revenue by leasing unused meeting and housing space. If you’re drawn to or equipped for residential guest services, this could be a great area for you. Summer conferences operations vary dynamically across institutions yet all exist in similar purpose to generate revenue for the institution to offset academic year expenses.
event planning (internal & external)
Events are an important connection to the heartbeat of campus. From internal to external organizations, events contribute to the experience and memory people leave your campus with. Yet, none of this would be possible without the planning of the event. Event planning takes you on a journey of collaborations, attention to detail, and organization. In this area, you can enhance your “big-picture” point of view and gain execution, stress management, and critical, proactive thinking skills, which could apply to any professional and personal life situation.
University advancement (fundraising) event planning is responsible for planning and executing cultivation, recognition and stewardship events to support the engagement and relationship building with institutional donors. If you’re interested in building relationships with alumni and other partners there are opportunities to fundraise with units such as Capital Giving, Annual Giving and School Relations, as well as the Alumni Association. The area of advancement and fundraising event planning offers you experience in all aspects of event planning including: budgets, menus, venue reservation, list management, reports, invitations and an opportunity to collaborate with other university staff and teams, such as events management, housekeeping, catering and campus police.
sales & marketing/social media
In order to sell collegiate conference and event planning services, there has to be someone on the team to think strategically and create a marketing plan. This goes beyond just “selling” to our customers, but building long-lasting relationships by providing value to them. Several operations are now using social media as part of their marketing plans in order to connect more directly with conference and event attendees. It takes creativity to market universities and colleges as conference venues and it is exciting to showcase beautiful campuses and the variety of services available to guests.
Collegiate conferences and events have a lot of moving parts and it is important to have the technology to streamline those processes in order for the operation to be efficient and deliver quality service. Some collegiate conference and event operations have a dedicated member of the team whose responsibilities include maintenance and configuration of their event software system, data warehouse management, website development, and registration services. If you like diving into technology, collegiate conferences and events has a place for you.
business & accounting
In the end, collegiate conferences and events are businesses within the university. Many are often referred to as auxiliary services whose main goal is revenue generation. Whether you serve as the Director or the Business Manager, business acumen is a must in order to deliver on this goal. Positions in this industry use skills such as business plan creation and implementation, budgeting, invoicing, and strategic assessment. If you’re looking for a business career, the business of hospitality and event management are great places to be with lots of opportunity for growth.
hotel, resort, conference center management
Did you know some colleges and universities have their own on-campus hotels and conference centers? Whether it’s interacting with customers/guests or providing crucial support behind the scenes, a career in the collegiate conferences industry provides various opportunities for hospitality. Any position selected, regardless of the level, share several key components. To list a few: excellent oral and written communication, a collaborative attitude, and attention to detail. Everyone works together to deliver a positive experience for guests and employees. The career paths in the hospitality industry are broad and the skills learned at any job level are transferrable.
commencement & special event coordinators
Commencement Coordinators represent their university to graduates, families, friends, media, and the general public. They work and plan with a variety of campus entities including facilities, security, technology services, parking, catering, the bookstore, alumni relations, registrar’s office...the list goes on and on. These coordinators take the lead of a team and execute the event that the university exists for: commencement. They also frequently manage high-level events for campus leaders such as inaugural events and other campus culture and traditional events. Attention to detail, university pride, and a commitment to student success is a must for these positions.
Collegiate conferencing and events is about developing relationships between the university, students, and guests. As such, many operations are located in the Student Affairs branch of the university. Students are an integral part of the success of any conference operation. Opportunities are provided for hands-on training within a fast paced environment. Skills are developed outside of the classroom, which is a key part to Student Affairs. All the employees in the operation are responsible for contributing to the continued learning of the students and the revenue generated goes on to support student programs. If you are looking for a career that gives back to students, collegiate conferences and events provides that opportunity.