For interns, I firmly believe there is only so much you can read about event planning…at some point (I suggest, after six weeks), you just have to do it.

I have planned hundreds of events, of all shapes and sizes, since 2003 and I must admit, I learn something new with every single one.  Maybe we figured out the ballroom lights in Mercury Hall are on dimmers that sometimes self-adjust as if they are haunted…or that the loading dock at that one particular downtown hotel (you know the one) is a NIGHTMARE for load-in/out.  Or maybe we learned how best to communicate with that DJ who never seems to respond to any emails we send them…not one, not at all.

These are the true teaching moments.

And in these “finesse” moments, it truly tests your abilities to stay calm, cool and collected…and your true colors shine.

Can you think fast on your feet and do it with a smile?
(photo credit: Nadine Photography)

moments like these make wedding planning look easy – photo credit: Nadine Photography

That’s where interns (ahem, Apprentices) learn the most, putting what they’ve learned into action.

Every semester, The Simplifiers hire 5 interns to learn from our team, in a group setting as part of The Apprentice Program.  We always look for bright candidates who seem eager to learn, have a positive can-do attitude and we always strive to build a team with a range of experience levels and backgrounds.  Our Apprentices have ranged from super-green college students to seasoned professionals looking to make a mid-career shift and get their foot in the door with the events industry.

One of the most memorable Apprentice teams we assembled had:
  • a restaurant manager with FOH (front-of-house) experience
  • a budding event coordinator from the non-profit sector
  • recent college graduate interested in corporate events and new event technology
  • a sorority sister with a passion for wedding design

They learned just as much from The Apprentice Program curriculum as they did from each other.  Each had strengths they brought to the table from previous work/volunteer experience and we guided them as their mentor to build on that experience, learning more about event planning and teaching them to think fast on their feet.

photo credit: Debra Gulbas Photography

as a wedding planner, you only get one shot to ensure picture perfect moments for your clients – photo credit: Debra Gulbas Photography

Every semester, we task our Apprentices to plan a “junior event”.

It’s no surprise to them…we tell them in the interviewing process and we guide them thru the steps along the way.   They are always so THRILLED that we’re willing to give them this amazing opportunity for hands-on experience.

“Really?  You’re gonna let me plan an event!!?!  WOW!”

As a group, they vote on who is the lead planner.  Then, the decide who the client will be and what the event is for. The event is planned pro bono, both client and intern team are well aware.  And so most times, they choose a local non-profit…other times, it was a promotional event for our firm like this one:

(video credit: Mishnoon)

This 10th anniversary event for The Simplifiers was planned by four amazing Apprentices: Roxanne (lead planner), Chelsea, Hailee and Sara.  Under our guidance as their mentor, they did it all…event design, budgeting, day-of production schedule, planning timeline, SWOT analysis + risk management, venue site plan, project management, vendor coordination and communication, you name it.

We even had a charitable aspect to the event, where attendees were encouraged to bring gently worn professional clothing to donate to Austin-based non-profit, Dress for Success.  And we collected over 40 items to donate to their female clients looking to get back on their feet, providing professional clothing for future job interviews.

All by empowering our interns and giving them the tools to plan a great event.

And that’s the true value of investing in a training solution for your interns.

Hands-on requires letting go.  Letting your interns truly dive in and plan an event as a team, under your supervision.  That idea might totally scare the pants off of you.  Yes, I know…it scared me the first semester we did these, about eight years ago.

After all, I’m a type-A control freak, like the rest of us.

But I will admit this…once I stepped back and let them step up, I was amazed by how what I was teaching them was really sinking in on a much deeper level, when THEY were the ones talking to the vendors and coordinating all the little details.  When THEY were the ones really mapping out solutions for their risk management plan.  When THEY were the ones dealing with the challenges on the fly, not me.  It’s all quite magical.

And provides such a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for them.

Want to learn how to help guide your event interns to plan a junior event within your firm?

Apply today to be considered for the VIP Summer Class of 2015 of The Apprentice Program and we will teach you how to become a better mentor and help you train your summer interns to learn the critical topics of wedding planning and how to think fast on their feet.  We’ll give you the foundation of learning from our 12+ years of experience in the events industry.  Deadline to apply is Friday, May 15, 2015 at 11:59pm PST.

Take the leap.  Your firm and your interns are worth it.




your Undercover Superhero

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