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What does event staff do? 7 things to expect from your first event gig

With the summer just around the corner, the chances are that you’re considering taking on a temporary job to make some money and save up for your next year at college. Or maybe you want to earn some extra dough to go towards a new car? Whatever your reasons, event work is a great opportunity over the summer, and it can be lots of fun if you choose the right role.

Below, we’ve put together some more information on what the job entails, what you need to think about, and what you should pack to ensure you get the most out of your experience…

You’ll develop lots of useful skills…

It can be easy to assume that temping at a business event or a festival is a way to earn a few extra bucks without putting in much effort, but if you want a career in event management or marketing, it’s a brilliant way to develop tonnes of useful skills to use later in life. You’ll learn how to organize your time individually and as part of a team, develop your networking skills as you meet up with other event staff and entrepreneurs, and learn to become more resilient and adaptable depending on who you’re working with. What’s more, working at an event gives you some basic event management skills - even if you’re handing out flyers, you are still working as part of a team and your contribution is important - don’t undermine this.

Once the event is over, make a list of the things you’ve learned and the professional skills you’ve picked up. Work hard to impress your manager and ask them for a reference - it’s a great way to get your foot in the door for permanent marketing, event, or management roles.

You might not love your responsibilities

The truth is that not every event role is going to be glamorous - you’ll probably have to start off in an entry-level position, and that might involve you dealing with the general public through catering or cleaning. Suck it up and accept that you’ve got to start off somewhere and that being part of a business event or festival is your chance to develop those skills we’ve just mentioned above. Always look on the bright side and put yourself out there - if you get stuck on a job you’re really not enjoying, your fellow event staff will see you through it.

If you’re really not enjoying your tasks, then assess the situation and consider speaking with higher-ups about moving into a role more enjoyable based on your skill set and interests. If that’s not possible, find someone you can vent to and do your very best work - every role in your life helps you get to where you want to be, so don’t write it off or act like you’re above it.

You’ll need to be smart with your packing…

If you’re headed to a festival or a business event away from home, then you’ll need to be smart with your packing. First, speak with your manager and understand the rules around the uniform - if you’re going to be supplied with a kit when you get there, then you’ll just need some clothes to wear when you’re not working and some pyjamas. Think about amenities that will get you through the day, whether that’s a family photograph or a face mask so you can unwind in your hotel room or tent after a busy day of work. If you’re fussy with your food, you might even want to bring along some snacks that you can enjoy when you’re on your break, and some money to spend at the restaurants or canteens on site if food isn’t included when you’re on shift. A water bottle is also a good idea - drinks are often super expensive at festivals and events, so don’t get burned - especially if you’re working on minimum wage.

You’ll need to work; not play

The truth is that some events and festivals are super good fun, but it’s important that you remember you’re there to work! By all means, hang out with fellow staffers when you’re off shift and enjoy a drink or two, but be careful about drinking before a shift, as you’ll likely be breath tested if you’re working at a festival. Turning up hungover is simply unprofessional.

Take some time to assess the situation when you first get to the job - are your colleagues working hard, or do they let their hair down? Is your manager relaxed or do they take a firm stance on punctuality and performance? That way, you’ll know whether or not you can take it easy - and learn when you need to be straight-backed and working hard.

There are perks to the job

Whilst temping in events is hard work, there are some perks! Rather than roughing it with the guests at a festival, you’ll likely get a dedicated pitch on site and even have private showers and toilets you can use. Some festival organisers even offer their staff free food when they’re on the job, saving you lots of money when you’re a “captive audience” away from home. You will probably get to access the behind the scenes areas of your festival or event, too, where there will be refreshments and areas where you can relax after a busy shift - look for these as soon as you get there so you’ll know where to head before the communal areas get busy!

You’ll meet tonnes of interesting people

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about working at an event is that you’ll get to meet lots of interesting people - both fellow staffers and attendees. Whether you’re working at a festival or a business event, you’ll make great friends and get to make a difference to people’s lives. Whether they’re asking you where the bathroom is or they need medical attention, your job is to ensure attendees have a good time and that they’re kept safe and happy, and you’ll likely have some humorous stories to tell your friends when you’re home!

You might not get paid until the event is over

Finally, it’s important to prepare yourself for finances, and understand that some organisers only pay their staff when the event is over. This will all depend on your local payment laws and the nature of your contract - if you’re a freelancer, you’re free to invoice the organisers whenever you want, but things may be different if you’re taken on as a temporary or full-time employee. Make sure you speak with your hiring manager before getting started so that you know exactly when you’re going to be paid. That way, you’ll be able to budget accordingly and take some spending money for the event if you’re not going to be paid until you’re home.

There you have it - some of the things you should expect for your first events job. Whatever you’re getting up to this summer, remember to work hard, have fun, and embrace every opportunity that comes your way. If you’re serious about a career in events or management, you’re already making great footsteps to a bright and prosperous career. Good luck!

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