Summer Internship Recap
Today kicks off our last week in the month of July. How is it possible that this summer is flying right by us? Last week, I took a short break from my computer screen, made two cups of tea and ended up chatting with our student intern, Devin, for a bit. Both she and I can hardly believe her summer internship will be over in just a few weeks. This summer has been such an incredible journey, for so many reasons… babies, maternity leave, an RRE move and destination weddings galore. Through it all, it’s been so fun to see Devin grow over the course of the semester.
While we sipped our tea last week, I ask Devin some candid questions about her internship experience. We giggled recapping some crazy moments and also talked seriously about the future. After our chat, I got to thinking that her insight could be helpful to other students and asked if I could share her answers with you, our trusty readers. Not only did she agree to share but she wanted to write her thoughts in her own words. A special thanks to Devin for taking the time to share her thoughts!
Was your internship experience what you expected?
In some ways my experience was exactly what I expected. And in other ways it was not. I expected to get a real hands-on experience in the world of wedding planning and I definitely got that and then some! I expected to enjoy my time here at RRE, but I did not expect to get as close to Betsy as I have. She has become an amazing role model and teacher in my life. I was welcomed into the company, and literally welcomed into her and Becca’s homes! When Betsy and I first spoke on the phone she told me that they wanted to be in the #rrcbrickandmorter space before my internship started, but baby Piper had other plans for the company when she decided to arrive early! So I spent this summer, un-expectedly, working from Betsy’s home along side the crazy Fred and Summer! Now we are putting our handy (wo)man skills to work in the new studio space, so that it is ready before the summer is over. Other things that I didn’t expect were the hours and hours of time it takes to assemble the smallest detail in a wedding, and exactly how hard event day is. My time here at RRE has really been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I wouldn’t trade everything that I have learned for anything.
What do you think was the best learning experience during your internship?
I have learned many things during my time here at RRE. Things that I didn’t expect to learn were how to use a Mac computer. I expected to learn things like the proper way to set a table. I think the most important thing I learned is that when I get married, whenever that may be, I will most definitely hire a team to help me! My professors have explained to me in the past to not expect some blissful TLC wedding show moment on an event day, but let me tell you an event day is a lot harder than I could have imagined. The physical and mental stress that you encounter is not something that can be explained, but must be experienced to fully understand and learn what it takes to make it as a full service event coordinator.
What was your favorite/ most memorable experience?
The thing about an event day is that it is not only one of the toughest days but also the most rewarding. I am a self described hopeless romantic and lover of love, so on the wedding day I took a step back from the work and looked at the bride, the couple, the parents of the couple, or the wedding party. In those short moments I would see how much fun they were having, or how the work that I just spent the last few hours putting together made them incredibly happy, and that made all the hard work and crazy event day moments worth it. Some of my favorite moments from the wedding day include when I sent the wedding party down the aisle. I was the person there to tell them to “take deep breaths,” “you look great” and “don’t forget to smile!” I got to experience their excitement and nervousness with them. And of course, watching the first dance between the newly married couple was my ultimate favorite experience.
In your opinion, what is the most surprising part of the job that the average person doesn’t realize?
I don’t think many people realize how much work is put into an event. People just see that we’re party planners, and think that all we do is put pretty colors and flowers together and then party all night. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What people don’t realize is that anevent day is around an eighteen hour work day spent running around doing things like moving heavy boxes of linens or glassware, ironing linens, making sure that each fork, spoon, and glass is exactly where it needs to be and matches every other table, lifting beautiful but very heavy floral centerpieces, making sure that the wedding party is happy and excited, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Also when the wedding starts, the work for the event staff is not over. We are behind the scenes making sure that everything is running smoothly, and cleaning up so that maybe we could get home at 1:00 in the morning instead of 2:00, after working since 8:00 that morning. That doesn’t include the hours put in the weeks and months before the actual day of the wedding where we assemble menu cards, escort cards, welcome boxes, program board, invitation suites, and all other important small details. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t understand exactly how much work it takes to be an event coordinator, but for those of us, who truly love it, know that it is completely worth all of the hard work.
What’s your advice to students considering career paths in event planning?
One of the most important things I could tell anyone applying to jobs or internships in the industry is to stand out. It takes employers around ten seconds looking at your resume to know if they want to consider hiring you or not. Make sure that your resume is professional, but also stands out a little bit so that you make it past those ten seconds. For example, on my resume the header is in purple because I go to East Carolina University (Go Pirates!). You will find some employers will appreciate the difference, but some won't. For me, I think the employers that appreciate those differences are the ones that I want to work for. Your cover letter should also be something that makes you stand out. This is a perfect time for you to show your creative side. It is okay to be witty, but remember you are applying for a job, so be professional! I promise that employers will appreciate reading something different than all of the standard cover letters that they have seen a hundred times. Make sure it is personalized! Address it to the person who will be reading it and have the correct address. Employers can see when an applicant has done their research, and when they just copy and pasted the same cover letter and resume to send a mass email to everyone hiring. And please, for heaven's sake, proofread a million times! I know that my writing isn’t perfect, but the one time you do not want to make a grammatical error on is your resume and cover letter! Another very important piece of information is that you must do your research! Stay current on all industry trends. You should also read as much as you can on the company you are applying to before you send your resume, and certainly before you go on an interview. Then if you are lucky enough to get the job then the research does not stop, but should intensify. For me, when I got the internship at RRE I came to this website and read every single blog post available. After that I went to the blog everyday to read, and stay current on the company.
Do you still want to pursue a career in event planning? Where do you go from here?
I’m not going to lie, after the harsh reality of the mental and physical stress of event day I had to take a step back and really evaluate if this is something that I want to do. The amazing moments of the day can get lost in translation at one in the morning when you are folding the twentieth linen in a row that wouldn’t corporate, and then every candle vessel just wouldn’t fit in its box correctly. But after much consideration, I really wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. They taught me a lot about the industry and about myself. I would really like to continue my career path in event planning to become a wedding planner. Because like I said earlier, the brief moments where I paused to look at the happy couple, makes everything worth it. So from here I go back to East Carolina University to finish my senior year (ARGH!). I will graduate on cinco de mayo in 2017 with a degree in hospitality management and a focus on convention and event planning. Then the job hunt begins!
If Devin’s experience has inspired you, you'll be excited to learn that we’ll be officially announcing our fall internship program in mid August as the fall semester begins. If you already know that you’d love to join our program, I invite you to apply early!