Summer Internship Portfolio

Posed at the VBCC with my co-worker, Forrest, my internship supervisor, Avery, and our dolphin mascot!

Posed at the VBCC with my co-worker, Forrest, my internship supervisor, Avery, and our dolphin mascot!

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.

Posed in front of the Town Center fountain with members of the CVB visitng their ad agency's office, BCF.

Posed in front of the Town Center fountain with members of the CVB visitng their ad agency’s office, BCF.

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

 

Article I wrote to submit to the "CVB Life" blog, where all VBCC and CVB employees can tune in to read stories and updates.

Article I wrote to submit to the “CVB Life” blog, where all VBCC and CVB employees can tune in to read stories and updates about their department.

 

 

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:

portoflio work pic 2potfolio work pic

 

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Journal 5- Part 2 Summer Internship

Having learned many communication theories over the years, it is easy to recognize a few that can be applied to the field of event planning. One communication theory I have witnessed in this half of my internship is the expectancy violations theory. This theory explains how people react and respond when social norms or expectations are violated. As event coordinators for a city building, it is part of our job to live up to expectations of remaining professional under any and all circumstances. Not only are our actions representing the Virginia Beach Convention Center and the kind of business we run, but we are representing the city of Virginia Beach, as well. Actions, both verbal and nonverbal, can easily be misunderstood if situations become stressful or chaotic. If inappropriate or unacceptable behavior is seen by a patron at an event, the VBCC could potentially lose clients and future business.

Another theory that could be applied to this internship and line of work is the groupthink theory. This occurs when a group of similar people work together but fail to share different or dissimilar ideas with one another, resulting in an irrational and ineffective decision or outcome. Although I have never seen this be a problem at the VBCC, I can definitely see how this could possibly be a factor in the world of event planning. Problem solving is an important and common process that event coordinators handle every day. Having a group of individuals who are too cohesive and who do not think outside of the box, could potentially lead to a decision that a client is not happy with or to a much more serious matter. It is important to consider all alternatives in every situation, planned or unplanned.

 

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Journal 4- Part 2 Summer Internship

This week, I got the chance to visit with the members of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). The CVB’s job is essentially to promote Virginia Beach in order to bring tourists to the area. With my experience working at the Chincoteague, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, I imagined the CVB to be somewhat similar to the Chamber. To my surprise however, the CVB and the positions they have there are much more versatile than I had thought. Although I still am interested in the event planning field, I learned about the role of the CVB’s Content Marketing Specialist and I cannot think of a more fascinating job than this one. A big part of this job includes running a blog that promotes Virginia Beach. In order to write about fun experiences to promote and give the reader a true feel however, of course the Content Marketing Specialist has to go experience the action for himself. Getting to do exciting things and then writing about what you’ve done to make others want to come and do it too? Say no more.

A big part of what I learned from being over at the CVB is that the VBCC could not be as successful without the recruitment of tourists that the CVB provides. They act as the advertisers for not only the city of Virginia Beach, but for the Convention Center as a venue, as well. They reach out to companies who need to hold large meetings or events and make the attempt to bring them to the Convention Center, allowing us event coordinators to do our job. This is another example of how it takes all parts of a company working together in order to be successful.

All of this is helping me seek a career because I understand not only the event planning side under the VBCC, but now have gotten to see the communication/marketing/business side of the CVB. This opens my eyes to the many career options that are actually available to me as a communication studies major. I am excited to see where my future takes me.

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Journal 3- Part 2 Summer Internship

Since my last journal entry, I have learned more about how crucial public safety is in the event world. This past week, I attended a meeting that lasted about two hours that was primarily focused on safety measures that need to be taken for an upcoming 5K event. Attendees of the meeting including city officials, police and fire chiefs, 911 representatives, the clients for the event, and the Virginia Beach Convention Center’s General Manager, along with the VBCC’s Director of Events. Together, these people discussed matters of parking, traffic routes, what roadways to shut down, etc. Although the 5K has taken place at the VBCC in previous years, safety matters still needed to be discussed and revised in order for the coordinating to proceed with the event.

Working as an event coordinator, I have learned that weather can be a hindrance during an event. In most cases, if a client is utilizing outdoor space for their event, their idea in their heads of how their event will play out usually involves good weather. When weather does not cooperate however, it creates a challenge for the event coordinator to then figure a plan of action that the clients approves of. I can see how weather can cause problems other than just wet feet, as it may effect the amount of attendees to an event, items patrons being into an event and if item check is needed, and if an event will start and end on time. Challenges like these are always common when planning/managing an event.

These experiences are helping me seek a future because I am now more informed of the appropriate safety measures that need to be taken and considered before an event. I also understand all of the different representatives who need to be present in a public safety meeting in order to cover all of the areas of concern. Also, being exposed to different weather conditions during events allows me to see how to handle those types of situations.

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Journal 2- Part 2 Summer Internship

Since this second part of my internship began, I have spent time with the department heads of the building to better understand their roles in relation to event coordinating. When I first looked at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, my first thoughts were that this is a building that holds events. I did not think to consider the operations, sales, finance, environmental, or ticketing side of the building. Without all of these different departments, events could not occur. It is important to realize it takes effort and dedication from all areas to run a successful event and business as a whole, not just the event coordinators.

As I have previously mentioned in a past journal, the VBCC is a public, city building. A 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. As I have learned from working here over the past few months, there are advantages and disadvantages to both sides. Aspects like, pay and promotions, procedures and regulations, and resources all vary depending upon whether the company is private or public. As this decision will greatly determine the type and level of event planning that I will be doing, this is important to consider in my job searching process.

This knowledge that I am learning here at the VBCC is helping me seek a future career because I now understand not just the event services side of planning an event, but all the other components and people who contribute, as well. Having this opportunity to intern for the VBCC has benefited me greatly, one reason being because it is a city run building. Because of this, I am able to compare and contrast how event planning is done in a public facility vs. a private facility.

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Journal 1- Part 2 Summer Internship

In this second half of my internship I expect to continue helping manage the different events that are held here at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. In addition to this, I will be visiting with the different department heads of the building to discuss their roles and responsibilities and looking at how these effect my job as an event coordinator. Now that I am familiar with the VBCC, the staff, and the types of events that are held here, I will become more involved with the planning process. This will include, attending any planning and pre-conference meetings, working alongside the duty manager on event days, and learning more about procedures, deadlines, etc. that are required to be met in order to hold a successful event.

Having completed the first part of my internship here at the VBCC, I now have enhanced my problem solving skills, crowd management skills, and customer service skills. These, in addition to working together with other staff members and taking initiative, are all skills that I have and are crucial in event coordinating. I definitely expect to use all of these skills throughout this second part of my internship.

In this half of my internship, I hope to gain more skills that will aid me when dealing with a conflict situation, while still remaining professional. For example, a client may have a problem with one of our staff members, claiming that they are not doing their job correctly. It will be my job to first calm the client, reassure them that the situation will be handled, figure out what to do in order to fix the problem, and then make sure the client and staff are all happy. I have seen that this can sometimes be hard to enact however, as certain situations bring different emotions. After this half of my internship, I hope to be better prepared for these types of encounters.

 

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Journal 5- Part 1 Summer Internship

One communication theory I have witnessed over the course of my internship so far is the social exchange theory. This discusses how relationships are formed through cost-benefit interactions. For example, if a person puts a lot of effort into something for another person, they expect that cost to pay off for them in the future. However, if their expectations are not met by the other person, their relationship may be affected negatively.

In the event planning world, it is the event coordinator’s job to ensure that their client is fully satisfied with the way their event is being run. If this is the case, the event coordinator is then satisfied, as well. There are several reasons as to why a client can have very high expectations that their event runs smoothly, one being because they are the one paying a lot of money in order to make the event possible. A second reason is because by them choosing a venue like the VBCC, they expect professionalism and organization from the building’s coordinators. With this being said, the client’s costs of money, time, and their reputation are all on the line, as they are expecting the return of a successful day. If their costs do not pay off however, their relationships with their customers and the building’s event coordinators could possibly suffer.

Another theory that I have observed is the structuration theory. This describes how organizations and structures are created through communicating, establishing rules, and accomplishing goals. Here at the VBCC, during every event there is a structure that is created and followed as staff members arrive at a certain time to be debriefed on their duties for the day. Those staff members report to the duty manager, who reports to the director of events. Radios are used to communicate throughout the event and procedures are followed when appropriate. Together, these actions work to enforce the structure and accomplish the goal of having a successful event for both, the client and the VBCC.

 

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Journal 4- Part 1 Summer Internship

This past week, as the Virginia Beach Convention Center held twelve different high school graduations, I have learned the importance of crowd management. Working as an event planner for the building of the VBCC, it is my part of my job to ensure that people entering the building get to the correct location of their event and get there safely. If crowd management fails to exist, not only is this a safety hazard and Fire Marshal issues, but people become confused as to where they are supposed to go, angry that they are not getting there fast enough, and may even look at the building as being unorganized. By controlling the flow of people in certain areas, events run much smoother and more effective.

One challenge I have faced, especially this past week, is people not wanting to follow directions that are given by me, simply because I am much younger than they are. In one instance, a man saw I worked for the building after noticing my badge and communication on the VBCC radio, prompting him to walk up to me and ask directions to a certain event. I gave him the directions and guided him to the correct location. After relaying my directions back to his family, he then walked over to another staff member of the VBCC who was standing near me and proceeded to ask him the directions of the same location he had asked me. Other times, many people fail to even acknowledge what I have told them. This is a challenge I somewhat expected, as I am young and do understand there is still much for me to learn in the event planning field. If situations like this continue to occur, I will try changing my communication tactics to a way the person may understand better.

These things are helping me seek a future because crowd control will always be a safety matter at all events in all areas. Knowing what to look for in order to ease traffic in highly populated areas and knowing how to react to these types of large crowds is a part of creating a successful event. Also, being exposed to large varieties of people with different behaviors and reactions, only helps me become more experienced and educated on how to handle critical matters.

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Journal 3- Part 1 Summer Internship

Since my last journal entry, I have seen, even in more depth than last week, the continuous steps that must be taken in order to deliver a successful event. I have learned that as an event planner, you not only need to ensure your client’s happiness and satisfaction, but you need to make sure your staff and team working alongside you is happy, as well. This is a major part of being an event planner, or in any job. I have observed that one of keys things clients like to see is detail. This is why every action taking place during an event is scripted into a schedule for the client and event staff to go by. If details deviate from the script however, as I have seen happen in multiple cases, the event coordinator needs to make the appropriate adjustments, leading back to problem solving, as I discussed in my previous journal entry.

A challenge that I have faced is understanding the effect of the Virginia Beach Convention Center being a facility owned by the city of Virginia Beach. This places different regulations and standards onto the VBCC that other privately owned event facilities may not have to incur. Event planners in this case, are effected because for example, if they were to need a security company for an upcoming event, they would not be able to simply order any company that met their satisfaction; instead, they are only allowed to contact the specific security company that is contracted with the VBCC at the present time. After discussing this with some of the VBCC staff, I can see how event planning at a private company could be easier in some ways.

This is all helping me seek a future career because skills like paying extra attention to detail and ensuring satisfaction of both, staff and clients, are needed in all areas of life. In addition, I now know if I were to seek a job in the event planning field, I need to consider whether or not a company is private or public, as this may effect my resources, pay, and role as a coordinator.

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Journal 2- Part 1 Summer Internship

Since the start of my internship, the most important quality I have observed and furthered my knowledge on is the ability to problem solve. In the event planning world, clients may often change their requirements or expectations of an event last minute. This puts a challenge on event coordinators, as they are the ones in charge of satisfying the client. In order to do that, they must problem solve and ask their team to work together in order to make changes to have a successful event. In addition, I have gotten to see the many steps and preparation efforts that have to be made by the event coordinators in order to ensure a smooth and successful event. Floor plans must be created, sent to the client for approval, sent to the staff for approval, edited if changes are made, and then finalized and submitted to the center’s database. Also, all personnel, equipment, and rooms must be service ordered to be reserved for the event day. With this, every action that will be taking place during the event must be scripted into a schedule. All of this is only a glimpse into what goes into coordinating events, of which I was very unaware of before this internship began.

I have not faced many challenges thus far and really do enjoy this line of work. Learning how to use the different event functioning programs were challenging at first, but once I practiced working with them, the tasks became much easier. I can see just from my first weeks here at the Virginia Beach Convention Center that long hours are a part of the job. Although I had be expecting this, I can see how this may be a challenge in the future if I were a full time employee in this field.

This experience is helping me seek a career though the exposure I am getting to a variety of clients, departments and staff in the building, and the different events that are held here. Skills that I am learning through this such as, teamwork, problem solving, and how to operate event functioning programs, are all valuable to employers in this line of work. Also, because the VBCC is a company/building that others are generally familiar with, this may aid me in seeking a job, as well.

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