Each year, students in Johnson & Wales University’s Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management program organize the SEEM Leadership Conference, an event that brings together innovators and emerging leaders from across the industry to share advice and stories of their career successes and best practices.
This year’s event — which was held last month in Providence — showcased impressive industry professionals and some of JWU’s finest. Students who were in attendance got the opportunity to network with experts, all while receiving some key advice for how to advance their careers.
Here are some of the big takeaways from this year’s conference:
It was student-run.
Each year, event management majors put their skills to the test to organize the event. The 2016 conference was a two-day event which included two major keynote speakers, professional and alumni panels, a networking breakfast and luncheon, an elevator pitch competition, an evening networking event with JWU alumni and a career fair.
Students said they enjoyed working on the event and were happy to make professional connections along the way. For more on the students who ran the event, read Lessons from JWU’s Student-Run Event Conference here.
Down-to-earth panels showcased alumni and industry professionals.
On the first day of the conference, two laid back panels brought industry professionals together to talk about their careers. The first panel consisted of three non-JWU leaders: Mia Hall (Mia Hall 19), Megan Duclos (Alex & Ani, LLC) and Ian Noble (Metropolitan Entertainment). All three speakers highlighted the importance of networking. According to Hall, social media is a great way to make professional connections and “build your personal brand.” For more on self-marketing through social media, read Using Social Media to 'Build Your Personal Brand' here.
The second panel included three alumni who discussed their day-to-day operations in the SEEM industry post-JWU: David Quill (New York Yankees), Brittany Abber (Columbia Records) and Cristen Faherty (Cristen & Co. Event Coordination & Design). Quill, Abber and Faherty all talked about the significance of gaining experience and working hard toward your goals. According to Abber, “getting your hands dirty” and volunteering are great ways to mold yourself for career success.
The keynote speakers were engaging and bursting with good career advice.
The conference included two keynote speakers — Dusty Rhodes (Conventures, Inc.) and Jeff Mann (Live Nation Entertainment). Rhodes, a pioneer in the event planning industry, founded Conventures forty years ago. Her organization combines the concept of special events with brand marketing and since its inception, has earned the reputation as New England’s leading special events company. During her address, Rhodes shared her career secrets with the auditorium full of budding event planning professionals. Some of her key pieces of advice included always carrying a phone, pen and a knife; operating on Vince Lombardi time; and having ‘swag.’ Read more about Rhodes’ keys to success here.
The second keynote speaker was Jeff Mann, general manager of Live Nation Entertainment and manager of Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Mann, who said he got start in the sports world, said being successful is more than just making money. According to Mann, students need to be resilient when entering the world of event management. “Take advantage of the opportunities you have,” he said, adding that internships and volunteer work can make or break you as a professional. “If you get the opportunity, go above and beyond.”
The event included students and faculty from across the country.
Though the conference was physically held in Providence, Rhode Island, there were students and faculty members present from other JWU campuses. According to event organizers, there were a handful of students from JWU’s Miami, Florida campus – as well as a professor from the university’s location in Denver, Colorado – in Providence for the event. The JWU College of Online Education also live-tweeted the event for online students who were unable to attend, as well as streamed an interview with a SEEM professor live on Facebook. This gave other students who could not physically attend the conference an opportunity to participate.