In the last decade, students from a variety of majors at Penn State have increasingly expressed interest in careers in event and meeting planning. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for meeting, convention and event planners is expected to grow significantly. The entry-level education requirement for planners is a bachelor’s degree, particularly in hospitality or recreation and tourism management.
Through the design, organization and delivery of both large-scale events and smaller programs in our communities and sponsored by our agencies, professionals in the field of recreation and parks use the skills and competencies that students often associate with event planning.
From events as varied as festivals in the state parks to holiday parades in our communities, we design events, manage resources, work with food and beverage entities, manage logistics such as parking and risk, and bring people together for themed events.
In other words, we are event planners!
In 2018, the RPTM department at Penn State, in collaboration with Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management, launched the Meeting and Event Management Certificate (MEMC).
The MEMC aligns with the professional certification programs offered by organizations such as Meeting Professionals International or the Professional Convention Management Association. It is designed for students interested in the academic and experiential components of the events and meeting industry. The certificate is available to students in all majors. The emphasis is on engaging students in the industry prior to graduation and developing the management competencies necessary for success. To obtain the MEMC students, are required to complete nine core credits, including a three credit internship experience, and six supplemental credits in RPTM or Hospitality Management for a total of 15 credits. Graduates will be competitive for positions as managers and planners in a variety of public, nonprofit and private businesses/agencies.
As an added benefit, we hope that as students learn more about RPTM through participation in the courses required for the MEMC, they will learn more about our field.
The certificate is also available for professionals who are seeking additional credentials. Internship hours for non-traditional students enrolled in the certificate program could take place on site at one’s current job or agency. Tentative plans for the future include an on-line option for the MEMC.
With an increasing number of RPTM students seek careers in event planning in both for-profit and non-profit settings, the opportunity for PRPS member agencies who are seeking interns or permanent employees increases as well. In job descriptions and postings, as well as in interview settings, outlining the event planning aspects of our careers may help to draw a broader and wider applicant pool. Students are often excited when they learn that they can put their event planning skills to work in their communities outside of the stereotypical “wedding planner.”