Case study

Conference and events executive — Samantha O'Neill

Samantha studied events management at the University of Derby before an internship at a nearby conference centre led to a permanent position

How did you get your job?

I had an internship as an events and marketing assistant at the Derby Conference Centre (DCC) lined up for after university. I applied for this at a careers and employability fair at the university, where the conference centre attended looking for placement students. I was lucky enough for them to still welcome me to the team in the pandemic, and I was then offered a permanent job as a conference and events sales executive and marketing coordinator after my year's internship ended in September.

What are your main work activities?

  • Taking phone and email enquiries for meetings, conferences, and events, booking in meetings, sending out booking forms and quotations, following up with clients for feedback from their meetings, creating clear function sheets for the operations team.
  • I am also in charge of any events we run at the DCC including all marketing, ticket sales, the running and completion of the events.
  • All marketing activities - social media graphic designing and scheduling, email marketing, promotion of events and website updating.

What do you enjoy about your job?

When I started my internship, we were mid-pandemic, and therefore for the majority of the year, I worked from home. Now that I am in the office, I love connecting with people and having live events back - I thrive off this.

I also enjoy the range of people I get to meet and work with, whether that be clients on the phone, delegates at the conference centre, or attendees at our events. I enjoy seeing an event through from the initial planning to the end result and having happy attendees.

What are the most challenging parts of the job?

A lot happens all at once, so sometimes it can be quite overwhelming and challenging to ensure everything gets done on time. However, I have learnt to adapt and prioritise, which in the long run helps build resilience and makes you more capable of handling anything.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree gave me a great background and overview of the events industry, so that when going into an events job, I had already got a lot of knowledge on a range of topics. I learnt about very specific things within events, as well as the wider hospitality industry in my degree, which has all helped me in different ways within my job.

I also had a lot of opportunities within my degree to work on events and I had a module all about event planning and we put on our own event, which gave me real world experience of the events industry.

I worked in the events office at the Devonshire Dome (my university campus), as well as volunteering and local events, which enhanced my professional development and allowed me to see a variety of roles within the industry.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Moving from an internship, my role has developed to have a lot more responsibility and there is still so much more for me to develop in to and learn.

I would love to be able to manage my own team eventually, however there is still so much to learn about a recovering industry, and the DCC is giving me the opportunity to develop my skills.

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

  • Try working on a range of events and understand what kind of events you want to do, and pursue that.
  • Get as much practical experience at university, so that you can bring new ideas into the business and understand how events work.
  • Become comfortable and be confident speaking on the phone, as this is your best friend in sales.
  • See if you can get involved in a mentoring scheme.

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