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Students meet their futures at MPI Connects

MPI Connects, a speed-meeting event for students and prospective employers, took place at the University of Greenwich, London, 24 April.

More than 70 students enrolled on events management degrees from around the UK had to opportunity to meet and be interviewed by companies from different corners of the events industry. Companies in attendance included CWT M&E, Smyle, Cvent, Shocklogic, IMEX Group, Hills Balfour and Mash Media.

Students undertook multiple five-minute interviews after a morning education session on interview skills and CV writing.

Johnny Martinez, head of business development and marketing at Shocklogic, was one of the recruiters present. On what he was looking for from a prospective employee, he said: “We would like someone who is up for a challenge. What we do in the events industry can be quite fast-faced, and it’s not a 9-5 job. We are looking for commitment, willingness to learn and will embrace a dynamic environment.”

Jessica Templeton, senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich highlighted that the event was a good example of collaboration between the industry and the education providers. She said: “This is best example of collaboration that we like to engage with in terms of the talent pipeline. This is a unique event in the UK and represents the best of what the universities can offer the industry. We were so glad that MPI came to us to partner on this event, and in fact other industry associations have promoted it to their members, too.”

CN asked Templeton how other events companies can get in touch to reach out and meet students as prospective employees. She said: “MPI Connects takes place each year, so they should be taking part, we’d love to have them. If recruiters want to get in touch, then here at the University of Greenwich we have a Business School Employability Office which works directly with recruitment agencies to help recruit. We can set up assessment centres at the university to bring students before those looking to recruit.”

The event offered CN a chance to speak to some of the students directly and to learn more about why they have chosen events as a career.

Lavinia Hawksworth, an events student at Cardiff Met, says she wants to work in the corporate sector in long term. “Definitely corporate for me. I’d like to work on the agency side first to get experience on the production side of things.” Does she feel that the degree course has prepared her for the industry? “Yes. For me it absolutely has, and I’ve taken up work experience to enhance that. The course should really push work experience, and at the beginning push more about the different directions you can go in. For example, I was fed into food and beverage whereas I wanted to go towards the agency side, so I’ve been looking for a way to make that jump and I’m positive this event [MPI Connects] will help me make that jump.”

Anika Modhwadia, an events student at the University of Greenwich, previously had a career in events marked as Plan B. She explained: “I actually started in optometry, but after two years realised I didn’t want to forever work in small dark rooms so made the switch to events management. My parents actually pushed me towards events from the start, but I like eyes, so wanted to try my hand at that first. I’d say that my personality suits this industry: I’m talkative, I like to be creative and I really enjoy it.”

So where does she see herself working in five years? “In five years, I’d be aiming for a career in the corporate sector, but at the start of my career I’d be looking at unique, creative and immersive events in the agency sector.”

Lacy Walton, who also studies events management at the University of Greenwich, decided on formalising a career in events after getting a taste for it while working in customer service. She said: “I was a manager at Wetherspoon and decided it was time to move on and do better. I was always involved in event co-ordinating and community events and thought why not get a degree and make a career out of it. I really like meetings, conferences, incentives and exhibitions so that’s where I’m looking.”

Pictured: Lavinia Hawksworth, Diana Zarate, Jinhee Park