Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Aspiring" Question of the Week - Gaining Experience

Each week I will post a question that relates to an obstacle aspiring planners have faced in trying to learn the wedding planning business.

This week's question deals with aspiring planners trying to gain hands on experience by shadowing or working for an established planner in their area and the obstacles they faced.

Please leave your answers in the comments section. Kindly refrain from using real names and character bashing and assassination..this weekly Q&A is for education and empowerment. No need to call anyone out...because then I might have to send you to time out! Thank you!

Have you ever called a wedding planner in your area and asked them about internship opportunities or available positions in their company? What was the outcome?

We'll address the answers in a subsequent post on Tuesday.

Let's see how this goes and I look forward to your feedback!

Aspire to Plan!


Anonymous said...

I have tried to talk to some of th established planners in my area and have met the wall as I call it. It's where you ask for some advise or help in a certain area and you get "Well I have some events that I am working on but as soon as it's done we can sit down and talk" and it never happens or by accident you hear at an network meet "is she just one of the wanna be planners?" Just because you do it part right now does not mean it going to be like that forever. This is very fustrating.I know I have a lot to learn but when no one will assit you in getting started then how do you establish a relationship that will help grow your business in the future?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have reached out in January to local planners for an opportunity to obtain mentoring. I didn't even get a NO... All I received was dead silence. I mean gee whiz, just say no, right? I then thought, "Hmmm, maybe the competition is not interested in helping the competition." SO I then reached out to planners in states far away. Same response. Is this because they think it's a waste of time? If you offer to pay for mentoring sessions, doesn't that show a bit of enthusiasm and seriousness? At any rate, I finally found ONE planner clear across the country who was willing to give me a shot. Just wondering why in the world you have to pull teeth, chop off your limbs and sell your soul to only still be treated as invisible by those we aspire to join in the ranks of successful planning businesses.

Mark Kingsdorf - The Queen of Hearts said...

As an established planner (over 10 years) I get calls and emails every day from someone either wanting a job with no experience, or wanting a paid internship...

I have had to limit the people I can mentor to local ABC novice members or students coming out of a local wedding planning class as at least I'm sure they have some kind of background and that this as a serious career.

Much of it is in the approach... if my website ask not to email or call DON'T... send a cover letter and a resume ...

This business is all about presentation and following directions...

Anonymous said...

I know for myself, when I first started my business, I would ask around, which was a really difficult thing for me to do and was basically shot down by nearly everyone! It was quite discouraging.

Then one day, as I was touring a property getting familiar with the venues in my area, I ran into one planner in particular, she was in the process of setting up a wedding. The venue coordinator was late for our appointment (this was the 2nd one, they missed the first one, BTW - that venue is now out of business, anyway...) so as I was looking around, the independent wedding coordinator asked me a few questions about my new business and how the start up was coming along, she gave me her business card and told me to give her a call if I ever wanted to sit and chat. Well I put her card away, didn't call immediately, but when it came time for my daughter's wedding, guess who I called to be our Day of Coordinator! After that I worked with her as an apprentice on several weddings.

To this day, when I have someone contact me (which is several a week) about a position I at least send them a reply, thanking them for the inquiry, if they ask for advice I will give it and at least wish them good luck on their journey!

Word to the wise: If you want an established planner to take notice, send a well written cover e-mail with your resume attached, don't just say "Are you hiring". My last assistant I added, did some research, read my blog, she knew my name, what organizations I was involved in, sent a resume and I definitely took notice, she has now done 5 weddings with me and was recently hired away for a full time position with one of the local golf resorts.

Sorry Wendy for the long comment, thanks for the forum and thanks for Aspiring us all to Plan!

calisara said...

I tried reaching out to local planners as wells, and received no response. So I started working with very popular vendors in the wedding industry to learn their side, and used the opportunities to network, network, network with hotels and attend industry events. I have background in special events, so I'm sure that has helped me forge ahead and learn. To newcomers with zero event experience, I'd recommend starting small by volunteering your help, even if the event is non-wedding related. The basic skills you learn as a planner are universal. Then focus on learning all you can about the wedding planning process, and intern with other wedding vendors.

Anonymous said...

As someone with little to no experience in event planning, it has been very difficult to get hands on experience. First, it was difficult to figure out where to start and then when I reached out to a planners in my area, I received no response. I just figured that with a little patience and more networking I should get somewhere soon. I will definitely take the advice and tips from the above comments. Thank you.

-Anonymous in Philadelphia

Sandra Watson said...

I agree very much with Mark - it's all about presentation.
I too receive multiple requests for informational interviews, internships + the like. I completely understand where they're coming from - but there's only so much time in the day!
So, I've started to put on Event Planning Bootcamp! workshops in the Greater Seattle area- to fill the need of new or aspiring planners eager to get as much information as possible, from a planner already established in the field.
The response has been great - and it's a definite win-win situation.

Anonymous said...

I've recently completed a wedding planning course, and the instructor even gave me referrals of people she thought would be more than willing to let me "apprentice" with aka work for free for them. I emailed them and explained the certification process I'm going through. I haven't heard a single word from any of those referrals. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one, and it's not just my market. I always thought that vendors in the wedding industry networked together and helped each other out, but I guess it's only in markets that are far away from each other. It is SO frustrating, because this is an industry that benefits from learning from others!

Tami Brown said...

As a planner in biz for 6 years, (2 full time), I had a hard time getting anyone to support and encourage me along the way within the industry. Most think you are not serious. So what did I do? I created networking events. If the biz doesn't come to you, you go to them. I hosted Meet & Greets, sending out personal invites. It was an investment but not much, pay for a little food and a few refreshments in a private room at a hotel or restaurant. The turns outs for me are always great and a good way to begin building relationships.

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