Extraordinary Events Podcast

Ep 67: Planners Who Are Students

April 08, 2021 Extraordinary Events
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 67: Planners Who Are Students
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 67: Planners Who Are Students
Apr 08, 2021
Extraordinary Events

In this very special podcast episode, I interview my four event leaders from this semester! Addisyn Dupler, the overall event leader, Kenzie Brabec and Amy Day, the two in-person event  leaders, as well as Lillian Nguyen, the online event leader. This interview is packed with very insightful information from all of the leaders and we have an insightful conversation about their key takeaways from the event, and what they wish they would have known before taking the Advanced Event Operations course! 

Show Notes Transcript

In this very special podcast episode, I interview my four event leaders from this semester! Addisyn Dupler, the overall event leader, Kenzie Brabec and Amy Day, the two in-person event  leaders, as well as Lillian Nguyen, the online event leader. This interview is packed with very insightful information from all of the leaders and we have an insightful conversation about their key takeaways from the event, and what they wish they would have known before taking the Advanced Event Operations course! 

Dr. K: We have such an amazing podcast. I feel like I say that every single podcast, I probably do. But that's because I'm always so excited for all of the amazing things that we have going on in the podcast. today. I'm sitting here with all four of our wonderful event leaders. If you listen to the podcast on Tuesday, you knew that we were going to feature our leaders for this event and talk about some of the amazing lessons that they have learned. So I'm going to just go around in a circle pass the mic, and have each one of our leaders introduce themselves say who you are, what your major and reminder is and what role you had in this particular event.

Kenzie: Hi, I'm Kenzie Brabec. And I'm a junior hospitality major and a minor in leadership and business. My role for the event was in person leader as well as volunteer manager, which sounds just about as much fun as you think it does.

Amy: Hi, my name is Amy Day and I am a hospitality major with a minor in business and leadership as well. And I was the other CO in person group leader.

Lilly: Hello, my name is Lilliaan Nguyen when I'm a graduate student with an emphasis with event management. My role was the online leader for this component of the event.

Addisyn: Hi, my name is Addisyn Dupler. And I'm a senior advertising and public relations major with minors in communications and event management. For the purpose of this event, I served as the event leader, so my kind of overall task was merging together the online and in person, elements of the event and ensuring that everything went smoothly.

Dr. K: All right, so now we have heard who the four leaders were and kind of what their roles were, I'm gonna jump in just to give a preface to this whole entire conversation. The leaders have no idea what I'm going to ask them, I haven't sent them any questions in advance, they have no prepping. So although there is a certain amount of editing we can do on the back end, I have no idea what they're about to say, which is extra fun and exciting. So hopefully, hopefully there's lots of fun learning lessons today. So you have actually heard from McKenzie on a previous episode, probably 40 episodes ago, that she had another episode with one of my interns and they were talking about their internships. I've had an episode with Lilian, before, way, way back, like episode four or five, something super early on. She's a graduate student and Addisyn when she was way back little. She did an intro to events podcast, and that was super fun and exciting talking about social media. So I'm going to pick on Amy now because she's never been on a podcast, she's never done a podcast, and she's never had me before this semester. And the students are all like flicking each other off right now, which is amazing. So the I know, that's, it's all good. And we keep it real here on the podcast, and I'm gonna say, okay, Amy, you've never had me before. You just had an entire semester of me. You were thrown into the fire, like, Hey, you have no idea kind of what's going on, but you're gonna she's like having a heart palpitations. So Amy, what was like your biggest learning lesson of just the class? Not even like the event, just like the class in general. Like people should be scared of me or not like, I don't know. So super curious to hear your sights on this.

Amy:  Okay, yeah. When I first came into this class, I honestly was super overwhelmed, and not really knowing what to expect with Dr. K. But one of the things she said that came true, of course, was that we would all just become a family in this class and get to know each other really well. And really closely. And I think with the leadership team, especially, that was something I was kind of nervous to apply for. I didn't think I was really qualified for it. And I went for it anyway, and ended up getting it and it ended up just being so much fun. And I think I learned so much.

Dr. K: Awesome. Yes, Amy, I'm so glad that you stepped up to be a leader in this course. And I'm glad you made it through the interview rounds and you became an official leader and what a great asset to the team you've been and we just have so much It's so true. The class is a family, the class has become a family, the leadership team has become even closer family. It's just so great. And even just sitting around this socially distance table right now, we are just so we're just, I don't know, close. We're laughing and having fun and lots of bloopers in the back end that I'm sure we'll get out of the podcast here. Alright, so now let's focus on the event. So Mackenzie, you made this comment in our debrief meeting that just kind of stuck with me. And it's what I hope every single student feels in their heart. Mackenzie, can you share with us your thoughts and what that comment was and how you felt after the event, and especially after the walkthrough on that Monday.

Kenzie:  So on Monday of last week, Dr. Kay was unable to come to a walkthrough. So it was myself Addisyn, and then two other students who went to the venue. And we did a walkthrough all by ourselves. And the event manager came in was asking us questions, and she was expecting answers. And like the fact that we were able to give her those answers, and not have to think But wait, I need to go check with Dr. Kay or like, she never once said, I'm going to have to double check with Dr. Kay, before we can move on. She just trusted us. She was treating us like we were event planners, not like we were four students who had no clue what was happening, which we obviously did, we planned a whole event like we totally understood what was happening. So after that moment, I like truly just believed that I was an event planner, and I was no longer a student. And I just like mine just changed. And then after Wednesday set up it like was coming full circle. I was almost there is almost there. And then Thursday came Dr. k conveniently slept in. And we didn't wait for her to show up. We took the initiative to be leaders and I don't know we were event planners. We were We were the people. We were professionals. We weren't students anymore, and like coming full circle from the start of that just don't know, it's still like makes me like have little butterflies in my stomach.

Dr. K: So Kenzie, now you have led me into the next question. So if anyone's listening to the podcast, and you ever take advanced events, I always do this thing the day of the event where I do not show up when everybody else is supposed to show up. And I do this intentionally. So that way the students are forced to look at each other, the students have to make decisions, the students have to step up. Because it's really, truly an empowering feeling that you're there and you're making it happen. Of course, I'm there till the very end, the very last moment, the night before we do our run through, I know that everything's okay, I know that everything's fine. And I know the status of the event. So when all of the students have to show up for hours early, I know that I can show up two and a half hours early, and it gives the students time to really step into that role and see themselves as leaders. So Addisyn as the overall event leader, it's 6am. On Thursday, Dr. K is nowhere to be found. Dr. K is not responding to her text messages or phone calls. What was that like for you, when everyone was turning to you for all the answers and to make everything happen, and the fact that I was nowhere to be seen?

Addisyn: It was a little scary at first, obviously, we are still students in the class. But like Kenzie said, I think it was really amazing to see everyone kind of transform into an actual event planner, because although, you know the first five minutes we were like trying to call a doctor Kay and see if she was okay, you know, make sure everything was all right after that. We I think really just got going. We had things to do. We had, you know, tablecloths to put on tables, we add parking garage signs to put up we had so many things on our checklist that we were just like, Okay, well, you know, she'll call us back eventually. And we'll make sure everything's okay with her. But we have this stuff to get done right now. And that's what's important. So it was stressful, but I think we just were really able to put our event planner hats on and get everything done that we needed to for the event. And I was really proud of the class, you know, coming together as a collective whole. And just having the ability to become our own leaders and execute the event flawlessly was really amazing to see.

Dr.K: Very well said and I know that when I was in my office, and I was printing out the revised food labels that we needed, then everybody's blowing up my phone and I remember distinctly I think it was Lillian euro or Mariah wrote like, I knew this was intentional. I knew that this was by design. Dr. Kay does everything by design. Of course she's not here for a reason. I just love that. And I love how you guys know me so well that she like knew that that there was a meaning behind it. So everything I do has some meaning. So Lillian The online leader, this was the first time the advanced event class had done a hybrid event. We had done online events we had done in person events. But this was the first time we did an online event. And that's scary. That's really hard. And you never know what's gonna happen. You never know who's gonna show up. You never know what technical difficulties you're going to have. So, Lillian, share with us what your experience has been, what your key takeaways have been. We have a lot of students, prospective students, tangential industries, meeting planners that listen to this podcast, and they're navigating this world of hybrid. And the importance of this online environment, merging with this in person environment, tell us your key lessons, your key takeaways and things that were surprising to you.

Lilly: My key takeaways was probably the research, especially the platform that we utilize was hoppin, and that was probably the most affordable that we could use, given the budget, air quotations that we've had, I had an idea had a vision, what I wanted the online experience to be what this platform was going to be, but given the fact that we are students, we're not funded significantly to have a very, like $10,000 platform, I can't do that. So just being able to how to adapt, still making it interactive. And being able to make it your way, in a sense, largest takeaway is, I highly recommend getting a huge team for the technical technology, if you're, if anyone is contemplated to any sort of online event. I've had four other people that I had a monitor when they were doing their own tracks, monitoring the sessions and what have you. But there's always going to be some sort of technical difficulty. I've had so many technical difficulties in the chat private messaging me the email, where I had to work very quickly how to get them back into the system back into the platform, why they couldn't hear their session, why they can't see the stage, it was just a lot of difficulties that you need to be prepared for. And hopefully you whatever platform that you utilize, they have someone already in on site for you rather than you being the actual technical person. So other than that, I'm glad that I played along with this aspect for the event. I learned a lot, probably looking into different ways to make it more interactive, more fun, more beneficial, and having it adapt accordingly to whatever event and goals I've had.

Dr.K: Very well said I would say you definitely need a dedicated team. It's hard to run a full online hybrid conference with a small team, it's very easy to run a one track system with maybe one or two people, but to run sessions with breakouts and needing monitors and needing backup system. We had 16 states and six countries represented. We had a lot of different players. We had a lot of different speakers, we had a lot of different attendees, we had to be prepared for anything and what amazing experience for a class to be able to plan an event with those types of statistics to say that's not just a student class. That's actual real experience. Just like Kenzie said you all are event planners. So we all love to talk about the amazing partners and sponsors we have and I think in this class in particular, you have a really unique opportunity to go out and solicit sponsors. And there's not many classes that you can go out and solicit sponsors and that feeling and that empowerment that you get when you actually get some sponsorships. So I'm going to approach this from two perspectives. One I'm going to ask about soliciting the sponsorships and two, I'm going to ask about your experience working with our strategic partners such as Phil and the Cornhusker. So, let's go to Addison first, Addison, you were on site on the ground, walking into stores asking for sponsorships, you and all the other students in the class were so nervous and scared and like didn't know what to expect. Tell us your experience through that and your growth moments and how it felt when you're walking away with lots of stuff.

Addisyn: Yeah, so at first, I was a little nervous to solicit sponsors just because like Willie said, we did have a tight budget for this event. And so for us to execute the event like we wanted we needed to solicit a lot of different things from different sponsors. And you know, what I really found and I feel like is my biggest growth through this event is going in person to solicit sponsors and going with someone else. So Lily and I paired up and we, you know, walked in the Haymarket and took our promotional guide that we put together for the event. And we were just able to ask people, you know, face to face, like, Hey, this is our event, Level Up Your Event Game  we have this promotional guide, like, for example, the mill donated gift cards, and then 25 little bags of coffees for our speaker gifts. So we gave the owner the promotional guide and said, you know, would you be willing to donate gift cards or coffee bags for return, you know, for a place on our website, or any other promotional item that you're really passionate about. And I think we just saw the, you know, advantage of going in person to do those things, rather than just calling or sending an email. Because, you know, when you're face to face, you're really able to make that initial relationship with the sponsor, and just are able to get an answer from them right away rather than a sponsor, you know, deleting an email, and you're you're never hearing back, I think that was the biggest growth because it takes a lot of courage to go into a business and ask for specific items. And so I feel like I was really able to, you know, increase my communication skills, and further those from soliciting items from different sponsors in the Lincoln community.

Dr. K: All right, now, as we wrap up the podcast, we could just go on and on for hours, I just love you all so much, you all know that we are truly a family as we have already stated. Last question, what's the one thing that you learned the most your key takeaway from this whole planning process in the event? And then also, what is something you wish you knew before you started this class? So two part question, key takeaway, and what did you wish you knew before you took this class?

Kenzie: I think my key takeaway would be that everything takes longer than it you think it would take? No matter the thing, there's always 10,000 steps before the final product. So at some point, you have to think to yourself, is it worth spending 100 hours on this one thing? Or should I just maybe spend a little money and buy something. So looking back a year ago, I was in Doctor his intro class, and I couldn't have even imagined myself where I am now. So just like the growth from that is kind of crazy. But what I wish I would have known is that like, to not be scared. And to know that, like, I actually can be a leader and lead others and I can delegate tasks like, honestly, pretty pretty well. So being the volunteer manager, I originally, I met the volunteers for the first time when they showed up to the event, and I was able to lead them. And we were able to execute tasks, even though they had just met me and like my leadership skills would have not been able to do that a year ago. So the growth of that is pretty amazing.

Lilly:  My key takeaway would probably be having a stronger sense of balancing work life, or in this case, class life. And me time, because I'm the type of person who likes to jump into their projects. I also like to take more than I can chew sometimes bittersweet. I like helping out wherever needs to be helped, I like to just be busy, just keep myself going, making sure and ensuring the fact that the event is going to go through. But because of that, I'm not getting the greatest me time that I should. But I need to be able to plan out how much I can handle on my plate and not overload myself. One thing that I would wish I've learned before entering the class is working with different types of people. I've been working with a thick, I guess, quote unquote, fixed set a type of personalities or individuals where I am working currently as an advisor for an RSO that helps plan events for the university. And they typically, oh, I need to get this done. So I'll get that done. Whereas this is a class, I'm a student in this class, I'm working with other students. In a sense, it's a group project, I'm a leader for these students, I should be able to keep them in check, remind them here, and they're being able to delegate that and not take it all on my own.

Amy: My key takeaway is gonna be similar to Lillian's and candies. But I would just say that using your team wisely, and delegating is just crucial to the success of your event. All of us as leaders, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we would literally take on every single task if we could. And we tried Dr. K that as for multiple times, saying that we needed to delegate to our other team members, because otherwise we were going to overload ourselves with work, which we again tried to do multiple times. But so I think that delegating is a big key takeaway that I took from this class, now talking about it after the event, and I think it did help us a lot in the planning process and such to delegate those tasks. So if I could talk to myself a year ago about this class and how I would grow in it, I just think it's really cool to see all the really fine details that go into events. I think that's something I realized in the past. But I've never fully understood or appreciated so many little things that even our attendees would never notice that we stayed up all hours of the night finishing and took us forever. Just like Kenzie said it everything takes longer than you would think. And it did. And I just think that's something I would remind myself and tell myself a year ago.

Addie:  So my key takeaway, I would say, through this event is the importance of sending an Outlook calendar invite. As part of my role, as the event leader for this event, I was the speaker coordinator as well. So we had speakers from different countries, which means you know, they're in different time zones. And so I had sent multiple emails. And within the email, I'd say, you know, your speaking time is, for example, like three to four central time, but that would be different for their specific timezone. And so actually, the day before the event, we had a speaker cancel, because they didn't have their speaking time in their Outlook calendar, because I didn't send the Outlook calendar reminders until like two days before the event. So I think just through this, I've really gained the knowledge of the importance of Alec calendars and you know, sending the Outlook calendar invite right away to so people have it on their calendars, and don't forget to put it in their calendars. Because when it's in their email, you know, it can be deleted or vanish, you know, email it sometimes, but when it's in their calendars on Outlook, you know, they see it every day, and they're reminded of it and they know that it's coming up. So I think that's really my biggest key takeaway from the event

And then I would say, you know, over the past year, and being in this class, I've really gained a lot of confidence with my role as well, I served as kind of the emcee of the event. So I was on stage, you know, introducing speakers. And as well as being the speaker coordinator, I met the speakers in person before their session and went over, you know, if they needed a PowerPoint, or if they needed any additional materials or information for me, and part of that is just really being confident in my own skin. I think a year ago, I maybe lacked a little bit of that I am someone who has self doubts a lot. And you know, at times don't think I'm good enough for the position that I'm in and doubt myself, but through this role in this class, I think I've really had the opportunity to grow within myself and within my abilities, which has been a really amazing opportunity.

Dr. K: All right, well, what a great session, what a great event, what a great process. For all four of you, I have truly loved seeing each and every one of you grow throughout this entire process. It's been so full circle for me to have the majority of you guys an intro, or not even as an HR to major. And Kenzie was accounting and Lilly and started in biology and Addison's not even a hospitality major. And we've got Amy who didn't have me for intro. So we've got all these different backgrounds. And it's just been so great to see how much you have all grown and evolved throughout this process. And I think every single one of you for being here today. I think it's so appropriate that you are on the industry spotlight and not on the student spotlight. Because you guys are planners, your planners that happen to be students, which is amazing. So I want to thank everyone for listening in on the podcast today. As always, thank you so much for making the time to take the time. I'll talk with you soon.