Archive for the 'Young Professionals' Category

09
Jun
15

Time to breathe…and think long-term

Strategy-Small1Meeting professionals are some of the busiest people I know.

But thanks to periods of economic stability, for the first time in a decade, these always-on-go folks will have time to take a breath and think strategically, according to Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook, 2015 Spring Edition. It was developed in partnership with Visit Denver.

This year has been, and will continue to be, defined by intelligent growth for the meetings and events industry, the report found.

For starters, 60 percent of survey respondents predict an increase in live events, while 56 percent predict an increase in virtual events. Part of the reason: Young professionals are realizing the value of face-to-face networking.

Other key findings:

  • 74 percent of those surveyed predict better business conditions.
  • Industry professionals plan to use mobile apps more strategically this year, including location-based technology for session check-ins and networking.
  • Budgets are still a concern, so organizations plan to host more local meetings, compress meetings into shorter times and increase use of technology.

“It takes opportunity, resources and the desire to be able to think strategically to consider how to improve relationships and to be smarter with how folks use the tools in their toolbox,” said Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter), president of Association Insights — the company that conducts the Meetings Outlook research. “Now is one of those rare times.”

While this is good news, opportunities also bring challenges. For instance, it’s a sellers’ market, so meeting professionals will need to contend with shorter lead times. As such, pop-up meetings are becoming more common. And sometimes, when attendance is low, venues tack on charges.

shaking-handsIn addition, with the increase in live events comes the need to build face-to-face communication skills (much tougher than communicating behind a screen).

Budgets are increasing, but with a planned uptick in live events, resources won’t go as far. At the same time, food and beverage costs have increased, so organizations will need to come up with creative budget solutions (i.e. purchasing their own AV equipment, rather than renting from a venue.) The key: During budget planning, think long-term and out of the box.

It’s an exciting time for meeting professionals, and to help foster success, MPI lists some tips in its report:

  • Offer attendees more engagement while gathering more data through your apps to help inform future meeting design.
  • Crowdsource: Publicly display social media posts from attendees, such as comments and photos.
  • Make your eRFPs pop with clear details, and consider working with CVBs to streamline the process.

“All of this is opening a new era for meetings, as attendee behavior data is going to explode — and it will help in shaping meeting design in multiple areas,” said Christian Savelli, senior director of business intelligence and research for MPI.

What do you think? Does your organization have a strategic plan? Are you doing things differently? Let us know.

28
May
15

Bonus Content – Event Garde e-news – June edition

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q & A with Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q: It’s a beautiful summer day in Michigan. What would we most likely find you doing? 
A: I hear it is supposed to be nice, mild weather this summer: my favorite! You will either find me taking adventurous walks with the kiddos at one of Greater Lansing’s awesome parks or enjoying a cool summer drink on the back deck with my hubby.

Q: Would you rather swim in a pool, lake or ocean…and why? 
A: If I can see my toes, I vote for the lake!  There is nothing that shouts “Pure Michigan” like wading around in one of our GREAT lakes.

Q: What’s your favorite summer vacation spot?
A: Kayaking is the best (usually with a kiddo riding along).  So relaxing!

Q: If you could be a summer cocktail, what would your name be and what would you taste like?
A: “Summer Chill!”  Mint, gin, sprite, raspberries and blueberries.

Q: What’s your favorite summer smell? Summer taste? Summer feel?
A: Smelling the lilacs in spring reminds me of the green, warm summer right around the corner. BBQ chicken with fresh fruit is a summer must. I’m not one who likes to be hot, so a cool breeze on an early morning walk is the best feeling of summer!

31
Mar
15

Nonprofits and associations are hiring…even in a candidate’s market

Now hiringWe’re nearing college commencement season. In about six to eight weeks, excited college graduates around the country will don their caps and gowns, ready to hit the workforce with enthusiasm and a bit of trepidation.

And so, once again, we’re reading a lot about hiring – and in some cases, lack thereof.

But there’s good news for graduates and jobseekers in general: Associations and nonprofits are hiring.

According to a recent report by Professionals for Nonprofits, nearly 60 percent of nonprofits increased their staff size in 2014 and 55 percent plan to add staff this year. And, with demand exceeding supply, salaries are on the rise.

In fact, 70 percent of the organizations reported two to 10 vacancies in their organizations. As for hiring priorities, fundraising and membership tied at No. 1, with marketing and communications taking the No. 2 slot, followed by technology.

“In a major shift from 2014-2015, our survey results show that it has become a candidate’s market, increasing the challenge for nonprofit managers to find and hire the staff they need and to pay the higher salaries required,” the report says.

And demographics are shifting. Gen X – those born from 1965 to 1981 – still make up most of the workforce. After a few years under their belt, these employees are ready for leadership positions. That opens the door for Gen Y staffers – those 32 years old or younger – who now comprise half the workforce, as reported in the study.

Gen hiresWith the shift comes changing expectations and skill sets. Gen Y is ripe with entrepreneurial spirit, independence and technologically-savvy minds. They know they’ve got the leg up, which means hiring has become more difficult for nonprofits, the report found. Job seekers can afford to be a bit more selective. Not surprisingly, the top reason for turning down a job offer was compensation. The second reason? A perceived lack of growth opportunities.

So what does this mean for associations and nonprofits?

PNP offers some tips on hiring:

  • Pay competitive salaries
  • Foster a positive workplace culture and environment
  • Cultivate opportunities for growth, training and professional development
  • Avoid a lengthy hiring process so “the good ones” don’t get away
  • Be clear about job responsibilities and rewards
  • Look for potential leadership capabilities in staff and new hires

All this said, here’s my two cents. My first job out of college was working for an association, from which I moved to another association. Neither was afraid to take a chance on a recent college graduate, and showed it by offering me competitive compensation and fun, inspiring work environments.

Both jobs (in the editorial and communications division) were incredible experiences, so I encourage you to tap into the newly graduated young professionals in your area.

01
Jun
14

Bonus content: Event Garde e-news – June edition

If you’re not yet signed up for our quick, fun, easy-to-read tips, news and association industry information, click here to join our mailing list.

 

Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones, Event Garde intern

Q & A with Ashley Jones, Event Garde intern

Q: When you’re not working for Event Garde, what keeps you busy?
A: When I’m not working for Event Garde, I am either watching Netflix or spending time with my family in Lansing. Watching Netflix usually wins out.

Q: If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
A: I think if I were a superhero my power would be to be able to stop time. I think being able to stop time and take a quick nap and be able to wake up right where I left off would be the best power in the entire world.

Q: If you had to pick a movie that best captures your life thus far, which would it be, and why?
A: If I had to pick one movie it would probably be, “That Awkward Moment” with Zac Efron in it. My entire life always seems to be one big awkward moment with men and just interactions in general.

Q: What one thing could you absolutely not live without?
A: I think one thing I could absolutely not live without would be pizza and diet coke. I know that’s two things but they go together like peanut butter and jelly so you can’t just have one!

29
Oct
13

Straight from an intern’s mouth

Editor’s Note: This week’s guest post is from Samantha Moore, meetings and membership coordinator for the American Bakers Association in Washington, D.C.  Before working full time for the association, Moore was an intern. What can associations offer interns? She explains.

Samantha Moore

Samantha Moore, meetings and membership coordinator for the American Bakers Association.

ABA Logo“You should submit something,” said Karin Soyster Fitzgerald, my mentor and former boss, referring to an email from the American Society of Associations Executives encouraging members to comment on internship programs.  She isn’t even my supervisor anymore and I still take orders!

This subject is near and dear to my heart because without my internship, I would not be the meeting planner I am today. I hope that my story provides guidance for other young meeting professionals and persuades other meeting planners to implement stellar internship programs in their own associations.

I graduated from Penn State, majoring in hotel, restaurant and institutional management.  I wanted to be a wedding planner, but I fell in love with the meetings and convention industry after taking an introduction to meeting planning class that was based on a CMP prep textbook from PCMA.

But I had no idea how to break into that position right out of college. Many of my classmates went directly to hotels to be conference service managers but I knew that I wanted to be on the other side. So that’s where my internship at the American Bakers Association came in and where the magic started!

I interned with the ABA three separate times. I worked directly with both the meetings and membership departments. Some of my daily tasks included:

  • Membership record projects and outreach
  • RFP processes
  • Contract negotiation
  • Registration
  • Meeting materials (badges and other fun necessities)
  • Invoicing and monthly financial reconciliations.

Most of the time, someone reviewed my projects once I finished or they were already completed (contracts). But the experience of working on those projects is what an internship is really all about.

In my opinion, an internship is the most important item to have on a resume. Internships reflect drive, resourcefulness and professionalism. They teach valuable skills, such as collating/alphabetizing, Xerox machine mastering, document merging, coffee making and life skills. But more importantly, internships teach responsibility, professional workplace etiquettes, business ethics and last, but certainly not least, they provide a step toward the ultimate goal of a fulltime job that is successful and enjoyable.

As a 1½-year-old planner I have many responsibilities that are solely my own and I work directly with my supervisor on all other meeting logistics. I am responsible for our sponsorship program, registration process, evening events for ABA committee meetings and special events and many other day-to-day operations.

More recently, I coordinated the scheduling and supervision of more than 100 volunteers during ABA’s largest tradeshow, International Baking Industry Exposition, and was a key contact for the education program consisting of 75 sessions throughout four days. This was an amazing experience, not to mention all of the great baked goods! Because of my history with the association, they knew I could take on such responsibility, and for that I am extremely thankful.

Thanks to my internship, I’ve been able to apply almost two additional years of knowledge and experience to my current position. When I was asked to become a fulltime employee, ABA was undergoing a change in management. I was tasked with supporting the brief gap of management at the ripe age of 22.

The wealth of historical knowledge not only sustained me during that time but also enabled me to work alongside my new supervisor. This sense of empowerment and trust taught me critical thinking and showed that I could stand on my own.

To sum it all up:  Students/young professionals and associations need to get together! Associations benefit from creative and fresh perspectives from interns and interns grow into people who are well rounded and prepared for the road ahead.

What I adore about our industry is that it is versatile and flexible. What could be better than an internship in an association where the student is exposed to all daily functions of a modern company? And what can be better than quality and cheap (not free) labor?

Associations are flexible and vast enough to give interns a tailored and stable environment in which they can flourish and network for their future.  And interns: You never know when a small opportunity like a temporary internship can turn into a successful relationship and fulfill a young professional’s dream.

15
Oct
13

Internship Intel

I continue to be amazed at the response from readers on the topic of internships.

My colleague, Aaron Wolowiec, founder of Event Garde, posted on Collaborate, a private social network for members of the American Society of Association Executives, that I was looking for examples of successful internship programs. And examples I got. Lots of them.

Todd Von Deak

Todd Von Deak, president of TVD Associates

Associations aren’t usually top of mind for students looking for internships, said Todd Von Deak, president and founder of Philadelphia-based TVD Associates, but they should be.  Interns often think associations are run solely by volunteers and are therefore broke. But perhaps with better networking and marketing, associations could change that.

“Internship programs can help associations extend their staff in ways that otherwise wouldn’t be possible and the pipeline for identifying and vetting full-time hires can’t be underestimated,” he said. “We work in a profession that isn’t necessarily the first idea for a new graduate of where they want to work, but internship programs tell local communities that associations are a viable career option. We as an industry have to be doing more of that.”

Before founding his own association management firm, Von Deak’s association was named co-employer of the year at Drexel University. In 10 years, it employed about 125 interns.

He recently wrote about internships for the magazine of the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives. In that article, Lisa DeLuca, associate director of career services at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, offered some insight.

For starters, DeLuca suggests associations:

•             Reach out to on-campus career center staff
•             Hire interns and co-ops.  Students on campus talk, and word of mouth matters.
•             Encourage alumni on staff to return to campus to share their knowledge

In that same article, Von Deak referenced a recent study by GradStaff, which suggested the cost to fill and train a new employee could run an organization more than $10,000.

Given that, it makes sense to create a pipeline of talent to the organizations: interns. Essentially, associations can engage a team of talent scouts who will steer some of the best students to consider the organization.

Von Deak’s interns earned a stipend, but weren’t paid otherwise. But he admitted that trend is changing.

“They would do a period of administrative tasks each day, but at the same time, they would write, develop promotions, lead work sessions and even pitch to our CEO,” he said. “I’ve always felt that an intern’s ideas are as good as anyone’s. The only thing the full timer has is perhaps a little more of an appreciation and understanding of how to make an idea work within the context of their company.”

PCI interns

Interns at PCI

And then there’s Frances Reimers, senior account executive at PCI, a marketing and creative production agency in Alexandria, Va.

PCI pays its interns $10 per hour. In the three years since the inception of its internship program, PCI has employed six interns, all of whom assisted with marketing, idea creation and pitching and research. Reimers looks for students who aren’t afraid to speak up and who have the confidence to hit the ground running.

To find interns, PCI advertises on local university websites and uses social media to engage. And from there, it’s about being prepared.

“Make sure you have a dedicated staff person with the right managerial skills to work with young adults,” Reimers said. “Have a formal plan in place to hire, train and manage interns. Just like any other employee, they need guidance, goals and direction to be provided by their employer. And provide interns an opportunity at the end of their time with you to voice their opinion about their experience – and listen to what they say. Finally, provide your interns a seat at the table – they have great ideas.”

What else?

“Feedback from our interns tells me they enjoy the professional, high-energy environment, the coaching and mentoring they receive from their manager and the opportunity to learn more about VisitPittburgh. For the students:  Don’t be afraid of non-paid internships, as many times the knowledge you gain far outweighs the short-term loss in wages.  Also, make sure you learn about the entire organization, not just the department in which you’re interning.  For employers:  Commitment from the president and senior management must be in place for the internship program to be successful.”
Jason Fulvi, executive vice president, VisitPITTSBURGH

“Being an intern at Hargrove helped me establish a terrific professional foundation. I learned a lot of organizational skills, how to use email and all the basic computer software. I learned the terminology of our business, how to manage a budget and how to interact with clients.  The internship was a great opportunity because I could demonstrate my value. I’m not the best in an interview or on a test, so this way I could prove to Hargrove that I would be successful.”
Renee Spragg, national account manager, Hargrove (a trade show, exhibit and event company in Lanham, Md.)

Renee Spragg

Renee Spragg, national account manager for Hargrove

Thanks to everyone who provided insight, advice and examples. I may write about this topic in the future, especially as we watch the repercussions of the Black Swan case unfold. So please keep the feedback coming.

08
Oct
13

Interns have rights too

Intern compensation info graphic

An info graphic by InternMatch, listing quick facts about intern compensation.

After posting on Sept. 24 about unpaid vs. paid internships, I heard from the founder of InternMatch, an online platform that matches interns with employers.

In September, InternMatch gained some attention by proposing the “Intern Bill of Rights,” which aims to set some common standards for intern employers. As a news junkie, I’d heard about this and thought that as potential employers of interns, you might like to learn more.

There are tons of intern matching services, so I’m not endorsing this one, necessarily. But I’m impressed with what I’ve learned. For starters, InternMatch conducted an Intern Match Report, which revealed the face of traditional internships may be changing.

“The goal of the Intern Bill of Rights is to improve internships for interns, employers and society as a whole,” said Nathan Parcells, co-founder and chief marketing officer of InternMatch. “It focuses on fair documentation and compensation, increasing the training and mentoring aspect of the internship, legal protections, nondiscriminatory hiring practices and potential for internship benefits. Some companies that have already signed the bill are Rosetta and Viacom.”

It has eight proposed requirements:

  • All interns should be provided an offer document, recognizing their role within a company.
  • All interns deserve fair compensation for their work, usually in the form of wages and sometimes in the form of dedicated training.
  • The word “intern” should only be applied to opportunities that involve substantial training, mentoring and getting to know a line of work.
  • The hiring of interns should be as transparent and non-discriminatory as the hiring of full-time employees.
  • All interns are entitled to the same legal protections as all other workers, and should not be subject to discrimination, harassment or arbitrary dismissal. Under these circumstances, interns should have the same standing in court and the same recourse to the law as all other workers.
  • While some benefits, such as vacation time, do not always make sense for interns, interns should be given reasonable benefits that are similar to employees. This includes sick days, over time and worker’s compensation.
  • No one should be forced to take an unpaid internship or be required to pay in order to work.
  • All interns should be treated with respect and dignity by coworkers and supervisors.

According to InternMatch, almost 48 percent of the internships in which the class of 2013 engaged were unpaid, as students seem to care more about building resumes than earning money.

But for employers, the question of whether to pay is becoming more complex as they navigate a confusing sea of legalese. So perhaps it’s best to think of paying as an ethical obligation, rather than a legal one.

Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells, founder of InternMatch.

With the cost of tuition rising every year, students are finding it difficult to make ends meet. InternMatch found that 61 percent of unpaid interns also work a paying job. Many of these same students are also taking more credits per semester to finish college in  four, or even six, years.

It’s a full and stressful load. And that’s why InternMatch, and those companies that have signed on to the Intern Bill of Rights, argue that interns should be paid.

“Unpaid internships hurt the economy,” Parcells said, “and the millions of unpaid internships in the U.S. every year are costing hundreds of thousands of jobs. The data-supported realization that unpaid internships have only a 1 percent impact on employment should sound an alarm for everyone defending the ‘pay your dues and you’ll be better off long-term’ argument.”

However, since nonprofits are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates for-profit companies pay their interns at least minimum wage, they are the most likely to hire unpaid interns. In that case, it’s best to consult with a lawyer, Parcells said.

But what does this all mean for associations?

“It’s safe to say that most internships at associations are likely very hands-on, meaning the intern is often working closely with several individuals,” Parcells said. “This means the intern has to have a strong skillset and experience level, but will also gain a lot of training and mentorship from the close interactions.”

Next week, I’ll be talking with Cheryl Ronk, president of Michigan Society of Association Executives, about MSAE’s intern program. Is there anything you’d like me to ask her?

Until then, check out InternMatch’s industry guides for quick tidbits.




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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