Career Connections

Shayla Cullen

Major: Event Management

Company/Organization: The District Venue
Company/Organization website:
Destination: Ankeny, Iowa
Timeframe: Summer 2018

Advisor/Coordinator Email:

I was responsible for...
As an event assistant at The District Venue, I have several responsibilities. I have learned so much, and I truly believe that this venue has helped me grow in every area that is required to put on a wedding/event. I have done everything from give tours, sit in on client meetings and tastings, create documents (Questionnaire's, BEO's, Floor Layouts, & Invoices), help with set-up and tear down, work as a banquet server during dinner service, and coordinate the day of. Here is a detailed list of what I do each week: Prospective Clients - Leads: Respond to leads via the website contact page &/or phone calls within 24 hours, solicit tours using leads gathered from the website, record leads in Inquiry Book, monitor lead statuses & follow-up appropriately, and catalog reasons why they did or did not book. Current Clients - Couples: Monitor current client status - ensure satisfaction, respond to all client questions within 24 hours, up-sell additional rental services - centerpieces, colored linens, backdrops, etc., initiate communication regarding tastings & logistics meetings - *Communicate appropriate date deadlines for tastings, logistics meetings, & and payments (remaining room rental, catering invoice, & hosted bar tab), *Finalize & confirm all meeting times before the decided date & time, lead & guide the itinerary for the following types of meetings: *Additional tours, *Tastings, *Logistics Meetings, *Other Various Meetings, and on the day of the wedding, periodically check-in with clients &/or day-of contact to ensure satisfaction, adjust the timeline, & make any last minute changes to setup. The Knot & Wedding Wire: Monitor & update vendor pages on The Knot & Wedding Wire, upload recent photos of high quality, edit section descriptions, update coordinator bio & contact information, respond to leads via The Knot & Wedding Wire within 24 hours, and solicit and lead tours using leads gathered from the Knot & Wedding Wire. Facebook: Upload photos of high quality to Facebook as appropriate, make boosted posts in regard to events hosted by The District (Open House, Valentine’s Dinner, Easter Brunch, etc.), and make updates to events, hours, services, & current photos. Event Setup: Develop functional layout based on the unique needs of each event - The layout must meet the needs of the guest count & any unique elements of the event, ensure appropriate spacing between tables, cocktail tables, buffet lines, & dessert lines, and ensure that the flow of traffic throughout the space, to the bar, & to the restrooms is not negatively affected by the room set-up. Vendor Relationship Management: (White Willow Events) Establish prices over the wholesale price that are appropriate for the industry *Adjust as needed, up-sell all White Willow rental items & services, walk clients through the rental form, communicate any needed services with White Willow (Breanne Evans), and create two invoices for the needed rental items - *Send one invoice to White Willow & a separate invoice to the client, *Ensure payment is made to White Willow for the wholesale cost, *Ensure payment is completed by the client to The District Venue for services rendered. Room Setup: Schedule assist staff as needed - accommodate limited availability in staff schedules, setup the space in accordance with how the posted BEO dictates, confirm any questions with whoever wrote the BEO, and meet “Room Ready” time deadline. Banquet Serving: Assist in Back-of-House preparations, serve buffet, family style, and plated meals to events of up to 350 attendees, work with Event Coordinator to ensure the event schedule is followed and needs are met, and clean-up and reset for subsequent event.

I accomplished...
In my opinion, my greatest accomplishment from my experience thus far is being assigned my "own" wedding to coordinate. This wedding was during week six of my internship, but I also worked with the clients two to three weeks before their big day when they came in to give us their final headcount and catering payment! During the first weeks of my internship I learned the ins and outs of the venue, helped create several different documents including BEO's and invoices, practiced my set-up and tear down skills, and sat in on several client meetings & tastings. This all really helped me feel more comfortable by the time my big week came about. Before week six, I had filled out a wedding questionnaire during a meeting with my two grooms. This document obtains details from the couple such as which color of linens they wanted, their food options, where they wanted things placed around the room, and more. I then took this and created a BEO using the venue's template, as well as made a layout of the room that we would use to set-up at the beginning of week six. Besides these documents, I also created invoices for the couple's catering and room rental. All of these documents are vital to an event because without them, nothing would be completed. The most exciting accomplishment from this experience was the week of and day of the wedding! During the week of, I came in and set-up the ceremony and reception space according to my layout and details of the BEO I had created. This took many hours, even with help from my supervisor, but it is so cool to see the finished product! The day before the wedding I went to the venue by myself to help with decorating, as well as helped coordinate their ceremony rehearsal. Then on the actual wedding day I came into the venue in the morning to be there for vendors, and complete any last minute prep work. I came back an hour before the ceremony to get in contact with the kitchen, and while the ceremony was going on I made sure that food was ready to go for the family style meal. I helped served food during the meal, and then after that, we kept going out to clean up tables and help guests who needed anything throughout the night. At the end of the night, I felt very accomplished, and what made it even better was getting compliments and hugs from the grooms. They were so happy with the flow of the day, and I was so excited that I had made their day special!

I learned...
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from my experience is that you need to double and triple check everything. BEO's are like the event Bible, and every part of it needs to be checked off as completed. It would not be ideal if something was forgotten because, it could slow down the day and make things more difficult to accomplish. For example, if a vendor doesn't show up you have to contact them to see what is going on. I learned that it is also important to grab extras of things in case something happens. This is because if a pair of tongs falls on the floor during dinner service, you don't have to spend time going into the closet to grab more things. Being extra prepared is important because you never know what can happen. Another lesson I have learned from my internship experience is that not everyone will always be easy to work with. Every client will want different things, and some of those things may not be feasible to do in our venue. It is not fun letting clients down or having them pay so much money, but I have to do what is right for the venue and follow what the owners want. There will always be difficult people in any industry, but I have learned to stay positive and firm in order to come off as professional.

Advice for others...
My advice for future students would be to not sweat the little things that happen during the planning process or at an actual event. Something will happen, no matter how hard you may try to prevent it, but you just have to stay calm and find a quick solution/ alternative to the problem. This industry is very emotion heavy with long hours, so I would say that you need to be okay with interacting with people and missing out on weekend fun with family/ friends. However, every client and wedding is different and unique so Another piece of advice that I would give future students is that the internship experience is completely worth it. I had very little event experience before my internship besides class work, set-up, and floral skills, so I am grateful that we are required to complete an internship before graduation. Not only is it a great resume builder, but for me, I feel like everything has finally come together. Now I feel like I could take what I've learned and apply it to any venue I may work at. There may be a few things that vary between venues, but at the end of the day most things are the same, you get to use your creativity, and you get to meet diverse groups of people.

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