Amongst the 345 attendees at the 2015 PCO Association Conference in Adelaide, was Michelle Joseph who had just graduated with a Diploma in Events from Martin.
In this article, Michelle talks about the impact the PCO Association conference & exhibition has had on her career path.
- What is your current job role?
Since finishing the course I have worked at Sydney Festival and I am currently looking for other short term roles with community and entertainment events. This suits me quite well because it means I have a lot of flexibility and control over when I work, and it also gives me time to work on my own creative projects.
- Tell us a bit about your experience with the PCO.
The PCOA have been so supportive and encouraging. Maxine Tod, the Association’s Director of Business Partnerships is very interested in supporting students and helping them transition into the industry. She was very busy at the conference, but generously gave me a lot of her time and made an effort to introduce me to some key attendees. Since the conference she has been helping me in my search for work and has continued to provide me with great opportunities. The PCOA also send out regular email newsletters with industry information and links to webinars and other resources. Anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in the MICE industry will benefit from PCOA Membership.
- What are your top 5 memories from attending the national PCO conference?
The most memorable part of the conference was the strong feeling of support I felt from people in the industry. When I explained that I was attending as part of a scholarship from the Association everyone was very congratulatory and willing to offer advice and information about the industry, and potential leads that might be helpful to me. The atmosphere was very inclusive and friendly, rather than competitive. Everyone had a lot of fun getting involved with the conference app, sharing selfies and showing off the freebies they had picked up from various exhibitors. We also heard a really impactful talk from one of the founders of Thankyou Water. It was really helpful as I was starting out in my career to be reminded that while having a job is important, it’s also important to do good work, and make your career matter. It made me realise that I want the work I do to support my community and make a positive contribution to the world.
As far as an actual list goes:
- The interesting things exhibitors used to make their booth stand out, such as free coffee, chocolates, colouring books, and even a life sized model horse. Adelaide is the home of Haigh’s chocolate and lots of booths had some to share. One booth had a chisel and hammer to break a piece off a huge slab!
- Joining in with the conference app and checking who was in the lead. It was a great ice breaker and helped everyone to get to know each other more easily.
- Attending a networking function at Adelaide oval, which was very exciting for a big cricket fan. There happened to be a test match on at the same time as the conference so there were lots of extra people in Adelaide. It was a great atmosphere.
- Meeting Waleed Aly who happened to be in Adelaide for the cricket. I’m a big fan so that was really cool. Sam Smith was also touring at the time and he was staying in the same hotel, as were the New Zealand cricket team and the Channel Nine commentators. It was really the place to be!
- The great speakers who addressed interesting trends in the events and conference industry, but also talked about issues that are important for anyone to consider. A key message from one speaker was that to grow in your work, you’ll need to grow as a person, and that having a work/life balance shouldn’t mean separating the two, but developing both to coexist.
- What skills do you see as essential for working in the events industry?
One of the most important skills in this industry is being able to see the big picture, while maintaining attention to detail. In any event role you need to know how the work you’re doing fits in to the event as a whole, then when you have that context for your own work you can take initiative to contribute to the overall goals of the event. You should also use initiative to make sure you’re always looking for what else needs to be done. In this industry people remember hard workers and will ask them to do more work in the future. Good communication is also essential. If you’re not sure about something you should ask. Making sure you know all the information you need for your role means you’ll be more confident when communicating with other team members and event attendees.
- What made you choose events (and Martin) for your studies?
Before studying events I had studied graphic design. I loved enriching my creativity but I was having trouble finding work. I wanted to study something that could make use of my creative skills, but also had a lot of job opportunities. I had been interested in studying event management in the past and felt that it would be a great combination of creative thinking and organisational skills. I didn’t feel like university was the right type of learning environment for me, and having already spent a year studying graphic design, I wanted a course that I could complete in a shorter time. Martin College offered the Diploma of Events which was a high enough level to give me all the skills I needed without the extra time of a three or four year degree. They also offered online learning which gave me a lot more flexibility and meant I was able to start straight away. The factor that convinced me to choose Martin over other colleges was the student support they offered. I was able to find out about the student portal, contacting teachers and the possibility of deferring subjects if I needed to. The availability of information and the helpfulness of the Martin staff at answering my questions gave me a lot of confidence that I would have a good experience with the college.
C: Sandra Johanson