Now that you’ve taken the walk across the stage and received your college diploma (congratulations!), it’s time to get serious about starting your career. The feeling of uncertainty that often accompanies post-grad life can make thinking about your future and hunting for jobs more than a little nerve-wracking, especially if the profession for which you’ve earned your degree is, at times, challenging to break into. But fear not! If your chosen career path leads you to pursue work in the exhibitions industry, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of cultivating success right off the bat.
If you’re going to be involved in event planning as part of your career, this should sort of already be a given. Time management and organizational skills are vital components of a successful professional life in the exhibitions industry! But, the use of your organizational skills should extend well beyond the environment in which you work—making sure your personal life is just as well-organized as your professional life will make it easier to focus on building your career with less stress.
If you don’t already use a planner, start carrying one with you regularly, or digitize your schedule using an online calendar; either way, writing out your important to-dos in a specifically designated place will make it far simpler for you to stay on top of your task list. If your financial situation is a little shaky, automate your bills and other personal expenses where you can, and download a mobile banking app that allows you to monitor your money as needed. If work moves you away from your friends or family, set up a consistent schedule with them for calls, video chats, and in-person visits so you can remain connected and involved in each other’s lives. Find ways to add more structure to your life so your post-grad world feels a bit more stable overall, and you’ll be able to pursue your professional dreams with greater determination and a clearer mind.
Seek Out Top Resources
To keep yourself as up-to-date and well-informed in the exhibitions industry as possible, it’s important to know what your best resources are for learning the latest news and developments. Every industry has its resident experts and authority figures, so make it a point to do your research and figure out who the most credible sources of relevant information are. Once you’ve made that determination, begin educating yourself as much as possible. The more knowledge you’re able to acquire about the professional landscape you’re about to enter, the less difficulty you’ll have in navigating it and finding long-term success.
Connect with Other Professionals
It can be difficult to get a career in the exhibitions industry started properly if you aren’t well-connected. These days, having a network of professional contacts at your disposal is essential to getting a career path in any field off the ground after college, but it’s especially useful to get to know other, more seasoned professionals in a field as niche as event management and exhibition production.
Seek out groups in your community geared toward the specific areas of the industry that interest you the most. Attend some of their meetings, and make an effort to build positive connections with as many of the attendees as you can—you never know who might end up being a future colleague! If there aren’t local groups or organizations near you, join an association that will provide that sense of community for you and open you up to meeting fellow professionals on a much larger scale. By adding more people into your circle of influence in the early stages of your career, you’ll be building a solid foundation of contacts willing to advocate for you when the opportunity to progress forward in your career path arrives.
The best way to familiarize yourself with your career field is by getting active in it. So, intuitively, the best way to learn more about the planning and production of exhibitions and events is to actually attend some of those exhibitions and events! Consult with some of your newfound professional connections and see if they would permit you to shadow them at some of their own events—gain a sense of what a given day at one of these events looks like for them, what their process and responsibilities are like, what some of the typical challenges they face are and how they overcome them, and whether or not this field is truly as good a fit for you as you think it is. Not only will the experience of seeing event managers and producers in action be able to confirm for you that you’re entering the right profession, but attending their events will provide you with more opportunities to expand your network even further.
Follow Your Passion
There’s likely a reason you decided to pursue event planning or production in the first place, so use that reasoning and whatever fuels it to direct your career path. Think about your strengths and the things about this field that excite you the most (the opportunity to meet new people and explore new cultures? The travel? The missions of specific events or exhibitions you’d organize?), and pursue opportunities that optimize your ability to channel that enthusiasm and showcase your skills. You want to build a career that you’ll love and that gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose, and the best way to do that is to continue doing the things you’re most passionate about.