My First Corporate Event Planning Experience

This blog post was originally published to the RBC Meetings & Events Connect page on July 10th, 2014. It details my RBC experience up to that point in my internship (about mid-way), and I thought it would be interesting to share on my own blog as well.

How do I even begin to describe the past 7 weeks of my time with the Meetings & Events team?

As someone who is relatively new to event planning, having only planned fundraisers and conferences for up to 250 people prior to this role, events in the corporate world were an entirely brand new experience. 2 months ago, I had no idea how to manage a webcast, had never worn a comm headset, seen a BEO (Banquet Event Order), gotten up at 5:00am for a 15-hour work day, or written a creative brief.

It has been my richest learning experience yet. And I know most summer students would say the same thing about their role, but I mean it in every sense of the phrase.

Starting at a new company always comes with a steep learning curve as you try to feel out the corporate culture and put faces to names, but in my client-facing role, I was whisked past dozens of new faces everyday, both in and outside of the office. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are mandatory for the job as you interact with so many different contacts for even just one single event, and they play a large role in facilitating clear, effective working relationships.

Through my role, I got to visit so many cool venues, and work on-site in completely new environments outside of the office. I helped organize countless town halls and other events- some in RBC buildings, and others in venues such as the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and the CBC Glenn Gould Studio. I am originally from Vancouver, so I got to do some “sightseeing” (sort of) while on the job.

If there’s one thing I could say about my job, it’s that it keeps me on my toes. One day I would be at my desk in the office, and the next I would be backstage at the MTCC in complete darkness, managing a webcast with a crew of audio-visual professionals, or doing a site visit and meeting at a hotel. I’ve never felt bored in this role because there’s always something new and exciting to take on.

Learning how to negotiate with venues and suppliers, identify key objectives, and think critically and logistically down to the smallest detail has given me a whole new perspective into the event planning world. Event planners have the sharpest attention to detail– there is so much thought that goes into every single step of the process, but the smooth execution makes it seem effortless.

Of course, there is also a technical component to the job as I learned how to navigate and monitor WebEx and Webcast sessions, set up recording devices, work with the audio-visual crew, and set-up/tear-down for the actual event.

Another thing that I absolutely love about my job is how much I get to learn that is NOT related to my job. Because I sit in so many different town halls from all lines of business, I gain so much insight into what’s going on not just in my department, but across the entire organization. I learn about each group’s strengths and weaknesses, and their strategies for the upcoming quarter- things that I would never have known otherwise.

The past 2 months have been exhilarating, exhausting, and amazing at the same time. I could not have asked for a more fulfilling summer work experience, or a more supportive and dedicated team to work with. I am excited to see what the rest of the summer will bring!

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