Having taken many communication studies classes at Longwood University, I can identity several courses that have aided me in my internship this summer at the Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC). Interpersonal Communication is one course that helped prepare me for the event world. In this class, I learned about many theories and concepts including, nonverbal and intercultural communication. I also took away how to effectively communicate with others who may have different outlooks and perspectives on various aspects of life. This is all important in event coordinating, as values, cultures, and communication styles often vary in clients and in patrons. Another course I found helpful was Conflict Resolution. This class was very beneficial in teaching me how to handle conflict situations. As I have mentioned in my past journals, problem solving is one of the main jobs that an event coordinator has during events. This class taught me how to appropriately and effectively resolve issues in an organizational setting. After spending time over at the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for a few days, I noticed that the course, Fundamentals of Public Relations helped to prepare me, as well. This class allowed me to understand the many roles that fall under public relations. At the CVB, I got to see the exciting side of public relations, as they worked in creative ways to promote the area of Virginia Beach to tourists.
Although I did not face many serious challenges during my time here at the VBCC, I can think of a few things that I could possibly struggle with if I were to land an event coordinating job in the future. The first hardship would be the long and inconsistent hours that come along with the job. Coordinators work according to the time events are held, some functions requiring presence through the entire night. Another thing I noticed to be a catch during my internship was patrons not wanting to follow directions that were given by me, simply because I was much younger than they were. In some instances, patrons would ask a question and receive an answer from me but would proceed to walk over to another VBCC staff member near me and ask them the same question. Other times, many people would fail to even acknowledge what I told them. This was not something I enjoyed, but I know that often credibility comes with experience. Another challenge that I have spent some time thinking about is if I would want to pursue my event planning career with a public facility or with a privately owned company. There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides in aspects like, pay and promotions, procedures and regulations, and resources. This is something I will be considering in my job search.
When I first began my internship at the VBCC, I felt I was “just the intern.” I started off shadowing event managers, doing small tasks for them on event days, and sitting at the Concierge desk assisting patrons who inquired about directions or information. After about a week or so of observing, I began working with the event functioning online programs that are used to create floor plans and enter service orders for events, as well as completing time sheets for staff members. I was then assigned with larger projects including, creating staff information packets for event days and taking on a larger roles to assist the event managers. I also participated in most meetings held at the VBCC, from public safety to pre-conference meetings. As weeks passed, I felt more and more independent and confident in my role as an intern. I was assigned various projects that consisted of editing event manuals and guides, researching upcoming events, creating new staff member kits, and organizing to assist the event coordinators in the planning process. Towards the end of this internship, I was acting as a duty manager, taking on many of the same roles, and even managed my own meeting event.
Because the VBCC is a city company/building that others are generally familiar with, this has provided me with many connections and networking opportunities. Having been exposed to a diverse range of clients, variety of departments and staff in the building, and the different events that were held at the VBCC, I can take my experience with me and apply it to other jobs and venues. Skills that I learned such as, teamwork, problem solving, and how to operate event functioning programs, are all appreciated and valued by employers in this line of work. Through this internship, I have gained experience, have become a trained crowd manager, and created connections with other members in the field. I also learned about what employers in this field and in similar fields look for when hiring employees. From this, I know what I need to work on and what things I should include in my portfolio when seeking a job. I could not have asked for a better learning experience.
In my first journal, I stated, “Through this internship, I hope to improve my problem solving skills, as problem solving seems to be a major part of event planning. I am also interested in furthering my knowledge on how event coordinators work in teams effectively.” I can confidently say I have learned what I had hoped to. I now can react quickly to stressful situations and respond to them in a professional and effective manner. I also understand the importance of teamwork when planning an event. It takes dedication from all members in all the departments of the building including, sales, event services, operations, sustainability, and all the contractors in order to hold a successful event.
I would most definitely suggest the VBCC to future students seeking an internship. I would honestly be able to tell them that I learned something new and valuable almost every day. I was able to network, understand the entire process of planning an event, develop skills in teamwork and taking initiate, and got to meet some pretty amazing people, as well. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to work at such a great place and to have learned so much. I cannot thank the VBCC enough!
Samples of some of my work during my time at the VBCC
Event specification checklist I created to assist event planners in the planning process:
Staff information packet I created for the Antiques Roadshow event (some formatting details changed when posted to blog):
Event write-ups from the 2016 Virginia Beach high school graduations that I reviewed, edited, and compiled into an event report:
VBCC new staff member kits I created of which included, the event specification checklist shown above, an event coordinator quick guide I edited and compiled, a front of house guidebook I edited and compiled, a Virginia Beach guide I compiled, building diagrams, and department contact sheets: