Published on June 30, 2015. Written by Kendra Smith, CEM, Director of Education & Training, Attendee Interactive
Like all employees should, I recently decided to take advantage of my Employer-Provided Education Benefits to pursue a certification through IAEE’s CEM Learning Program. As many of you already know, IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events) is a leading association representing the interests of those who plan, produce and service the global exhibition industry. Being on the service side of the industry, I figured the CEM (Certified in Exhibition Management™) Learning Program would give me a better insight on the planning and producing of exhibitions. Thus, enabling me to provide better service to my clients!
The CEM Certification Requirements are relatively simple, if you compare them to an intensive Master’s program, or grueling 6-month military boot camp. New candidates must submit an application, which requires verification of at least 3 years of full-time work experience in the exhibitions and events industry. Once accepted into the program, you have 3 years to complete 9 out of 12 available courses. Courses are offered at various IAEE events throughout the year, or you may take them online if your budget/schedule does not allow you to travel.
I took a hybrid approach to keep costs lower and travel time to a minimum. The CEM schedule was flexible enough to allow me to pace myself comfortably within the 3-year time limit. There is no final exam for the entire program, but you must pass an exam at the completion of each course. Fortunately, you have 90 days to complete the exam after each course, and the passing grade is 30 out of 40. Needless to say, the CEM program sets you up for success so it’s a no-brainer to make it a professional goal!
Have I sold you on the idea of enrolling in the CEM Learning Program? If so, let me share a few tips I learned along the way:
Tip 1: Network, Network, Network
The CEM program is a great opportunity for you to learn about what others are doing in the industry and build your professional network.
If you are taking an online course, be sure to connect with your classmates on LinkedIn and be an active participant in group discussions. Share your relevant experiences and ask questions to keep the course interesting.
For onsite courses, do not forget your business cards! Be sure to sit at a table with learners you do not know and get a group together for lunch. You will have new professional friends by the end of the day!
Tip 2: CEM Etiquette
I am ashamed to say I was scolded by the course instructor during my very first CEM course for being too “salesy” when contributing to group discussions. As a service provider, I tend to be a little passionate about the products I represent at my company; therefore, I feel everyone should know how awesome they are! Well, if one of your classmates mentions they are looking for a solution, or you know a solution will help them, be sure you do not announce your company “does it best” in front of the entire class. Oops…
Tip 3: Opt to Take the Exam Later
If you are a procrastinator like myself, and you have not spent enough time prepping for the exam, have no fear…you can take the exam within 90 days of course completion! This applies to onsite AND online courses. Save your course material for review when you have time to focus on the content. Be sure you have arranged for a proctor (must be a current CEM) to be present while you take the exam. You will pass with flying colors, I promise!
Tip 4: Online Courses Require Time Management
In general, I have always found online courses to be somewhat easier than live courses, which was my initial expectation of the online CEM courses. WRONG! Be prepared to spend a few hours each week (each course is 4 weeks long) reading, writing discussion board responses and taking practice exams. I set up reminders on my personal calendar to allocate time before the assignments were due each week. Was I always on time with my assignments? Nope. Good thing is, the course instructors are pretty easy-going about late work. I’m not giving you permission to be late, though!
Tip 5: Flaunt Your CEM Designation, You Earned It!!!
You may not be a MD or DVM, but you still ROCK for completing a certification program that required you to reach outside the comfort zone of your work cubical. It also gives people in the industry a chance to relate to you, and look up to you! It’s a win, win.
For more information about the CEM Learning Program CLICK HERE.