Case study

Challenge events manager — Alex

Gaining freelance events experience during his degree helped Alex land his first graduate job, organising large scale fundraising events for a hospice

How did you get your job?

I work for a hospice as their challenge events manager. After finishing my degree, I was looking for roles in events management and saw my current job advertised on Linkedin.

The role looked interesting so I applied through the website of the organisation. During my degree I did a six-month placement with an events management organisation and also gained some freelance events experience.

Working in events is different from anything else. You are constantly meeting new people and going to new places, and it's very varied

How relevant is your degree to your job?

I would say that about half of what I studied during my festival and events management degree is relevant to my current role.

The course was particularly geared towards large scale, live events, such as festivals, with a focus on mass participation and large venue management.

There was not a lot of focus on HR or people management. My current role involves a lot of fundraising, which was not covered during my degree.

What are your main work activities?

I am part of a team of five, and we run six large fundraisers each year, such as the Celtic Challenge 2016 (teams cycling across Scotland), plus a number of smaller events. The team tend to be split into working on outdoor or indoor events, depending on experience. The hospice supports a lot of different people, and we need to run a wide range of activities so that everyone has the chance to participate.

Currently, I am working behind the scenes, doing presentations to potential corporate partners, looking for sponsorship and also for teams to participate in the events. As the events get nearer, I will become more involved in the operational side, co-ordinating volunteers and sponsors, organising the promotion of the event and liaising with the organisations that will be running the event for us.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Working in events is different from anything else. You are constantly meeting new people and going to new places, and it';s very varied. I really enjoy the build up to the launch of the events, which is quite exciting, and working alongside the design teams.

The role is a big change from my previous jobs, which were more 'hands on', but this will change as the main event gets closer.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

As we are not a well-known, national charity, our big challenge is getting people to take part in the events. Our target audience is smaller, as we rely on local branches of organisations such as the big banks, to send a team to participate in the fundraisers. We do have some repeat business from companies who will send teams more than once, but we also need to keep finding new participants.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Go out and gain some experience. I worked freelance while studying for my degree and I feel it is this experience, rather than my degree itself, which has led me to this job.

I didn't find it too hard to find freelance experience. Some companies have recruitment evenings for their events and once I had some experience I was able to send my CV out to other events organisations.

Find out more

Look for available opportunities at St. Columba's Hospice