What is the most important skill a candidate needs to succeed in a career in sports, entertainment, or event management? According to Sarah Jane Wyman ’11, senior meetings and special events manager at Marriott International, the answer is passion.
“You need to have eagerness and drive for your position,” she said. “I can teach you the skills but I can’t teach you to have a good personality.”
Wyman, along with two other Johnson & Wales University alums, recently returned to the Providence campus to serve as panelists during the annual SEEM Leadership Conference. For the fifth year in a row, the student-run event brought industry professionals together with students to network, share advice, and discuss career paths.
Wyman was joined on stage by David Campopiano ’07, director of marketing for the New England Revolution, and Benjamin Zirolli ’08, general manager of TAO Group Chicago. All three SEEM alums spoke to the evolving trends they see in their respective fields and what students should do to position themselves for success in the industry.
Here are their best career tips for anyone interested in working in a similar industry.
1. Master basic career skills.
Among the many skills Wyman listed, organization was one of the big ones. In addition, she said a successful hotel or events professional would be a quick-thinker, a team player, a good communicator, someone with thick skin, and someone who is passionate and service-oriented. “Lateral service across all departments is the key to giving the best experience,” she explained. “Guests can’t ever know there is any division.”
2. Work-life balance is crucial.
According to Campopiano, a typical SEEM career—specifically in the sports industry—requires long days, late nights, events on weekends, and a lot of moving parts. Therefore, all professionals should strive to have an appropriate balance between their work and personal life. “You’ll burn out quickly if you don’t,” he said.
3. Be prepared to work hard.
It might sound like common knowledge, but Zirolli said a person entering a field like his should always be prepared to work hard, both physically and mentally. “You need to provide each guest with the same experience, even if you’ve already greeted 100 guests that night,” he said, noting that this does not excuse professionals to become sloppy in their hospitality. Therefore, take precautions to make sure you are comfortable—he suggests buying good shoes, no matter how silly it sounds—so that you can happily serve your guests.
Are you interested in a career in sports, event management, or entertainment? Learn more about our online BS – Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management degree by completing the “Request Info” form on this page, calling 855-JWU-1881, or emailing: [email protected].