Although I sometimes feel like the new girl on the block, I've been at this for several years now and I've learned a lot along the way. Check out my Q & A below for the biggest things I've learned about getting started.
Q: Hi Gabrielle, I stumbled upon Event 29 on Pinterest and went to your site. Your designs are gorgeous! I read your About section, and I was hoping to ask a little advice. I also graduated with a Fine Arts degree (Theatre, specifically) and have also been going the "dead end jobs that are creatively stunting" route. I'm in a bit of a transitional state right now and I'd been wanting to get into event planning and design. As someone who has gone through the same transition and who is doing such amazing work, I was hoping you might be able to give me a little advice about how you made that transition happen.
Either way, I'll be following your work for inspiration! Thanks a lot, and all the best!
A: 1. Don't wait for the right time or until you're an expert.
Just start. I did a lot of stuff for free to build a resume and portfolio. One of the main reasons I decided on event planning after quitting my job was that it doesn't necessarily require more school. Experience can often be more valuable. I did two unpaid internships at the age of 26, and I got them both by having the audacity to believe that a legitimate organization would take on an intern who wasn't even in college and who just showed up and asked for the internship. You wouldn't believe how far asking for something will put you ahead of the game. I also did a lot of events for free for friends, and they ended up costing me money, but I looked at it as an investment in my future because I was able to use the photos and their testimonials in my portfolio.
"When you compare yourself to someone you see online, looking up to them and wondering how they got where they are, realize they weren't catapulted there."
2. Succeed and fail, but mostly fail. A lot.
I just kept failing. When you compare yourself to someone you see online, looking up to them and wondering how they got where they are, realize they weren't catapulted there. The hardest part about doing your own thing is to keep going through all the setbacks. This is especially true with something like event planning and design because there's no one way to get there. You must put yourself out there, see what opportunities are available to you, and then you try them. A few will work, most won't so you just keep recalculating your route. The only thing that will keep you from not doing it, is not doing it. It's not usually things like luck or talent. Those help, but they won't carry you. After awhile you're able to use the seeds of the few things that have worked to grow more opportunities for yourself.
3. Reach out and collaborate.
The last thing that has helped is reaching out to people. I was self conscious at first to make connections with other professionals because I thought they'd look down on me for being new. That's wasn't true. You can start growing your career on your own, but you need a good network for support and inspiration. Before you think you're ready to do so, reach out to professionals. Establish relationships with them and collaborate with them. Don't be threatened by people who do something similar to you. I'm getting ready to collaborate with someone who is starting a very similar business in my area because we both saw it as an opportunity to share resources and referrals, instead of as a competition.
Let me know how I'm doing! Leave a comment below!
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