International Students Testimonies

The facets of event management: from agency life to public service

Meret Gesierich successfully completed her dual degree in media and event management in 2019 - and was able to join a full-service event agency straight after graduation. But then suddenly a lot of flexibility was required, due to the pandemic that intervened. Fortunately, Meret was able to change jobs quickly and found a permanent position as an event manager in the field of press and public relations. In this interview, she told us more about her current job and the advantages of the dual study program at HMKW.

What comes to mind when you think about your studies at HMKW?

When I think of HMKW, I remember Professor Pöllmann and the events we implemented in his courses by ourselves, our jam session in the foyer, podcast recordings in the basement, the water dispenser in the entrance and the conversations with Julien in the administration.

I think of hot summers in almost equally hot lecture rooms, block seminars on Saturdays for IHK classes, and countless pretzel sticks for lunch.

I am thankful for four and a half challenging and at the same time fun years, for the chance to combine a bachelor's degree and an IHK degree, for professors who developed cool projects for us, for IHK lecturers with whom we could go out for a few (or a few more) beers after exams, and especially for my relationship and great friendships that started here.

 

You acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Event Management at HMKW Berlin. What is your current job position?

Already during my studies I started my own business as a project manager for gala events and was permanently employed by one of my clients - in a full-service event agency - on the very day I handed in my bachelor thesis. I really enjoyed working on the planning and implementation of media events such as award ceremonies and marketing events, but also on congresses and trade fairs, developing sponsoring concepts and accompanying incentive trips. But unfortunately, due to the effects of the Corona pandemic, short-time work came first in March 2020 and in May the contract of employment had to be terminated.

The unemployment came as a surprise and was of course frustrating, but fortunately did not last too long. Since late summer, I have now been employed in the press and public relations department of the German Pension Insurance. Public service - that was not on my wish list during my studies, but unexpected things often happen. Despite the pandemic, I had a great start there and have been responsible for the conception and implementation of marketing and campaign events since then - currently primarily digital.

Why did you decide to study “Media and Event Management”? And what made you choose HMKW Berlin?

Before studying at HMKW, I started studying business administration at a state university and dropped out after the first semester because each of the nearly 400 students there was just a (registration) number. I missed the personal exchange with the teachers as well as the practical relevance and therefore I looked for an alternative. At first, the tuition fees at HMKW made me hesitate, just like at other private universities, but in the end, it was the friendly atmosphere and the dual program that convinced me.

What advantages do you see in a dual study program compared to a study program in the classical form?

Despite many projects during the course, teaching is fundamentally theoretical. The reference to practice was a very helpful and interesting addition. In addition to their training activities, the IHK lecturers work for the most part in the private sector and bring examples from their everyday work - as well as a very relaxed manner in the exchange with us.

The most important additional value for me was that I learned how to do commercial work, which is essential in my later professional life. The friendships that continue to exist from my studies are also almost all from the dual course, as you really grow together over time. The apprenticeship was a plus point for job applications and if you want to do both, it definitely makes sense to combine the two because of the time savings and the frequently intersecting content.

Which contents of your studies are part of your current job? How do your studies help you in your work routine?

Thanks to the practical relevance and various projects, I was already able to gain a good insight into the industry during my studies, get to know processes and assess priorities. Pitching marketing ideas and event concepts on a regular basis is part of my everyday work.

The preparation through presentation training and real pitches in front of real customers in my studies helped me a lot. The fairly wide-ranging knowledge of market research, media planning, and communications also helps a lot in the creation of these ideas and concepts.

 

What do you like most about your current job position? What is your biggest challenge?

When I work in event management, I love having to be meticulously organized and totally creative at the same time. I enjoy thinking up concepts from scratch based on the event's goals, developing them in the process, and then working them into project plans. In addition, the job thrives on contacts with clients and service providers and, above all, on the challenges, spontaneity and adrenaline on the day of the event. In those moments, you know why the night shifts were worth it.

The challenges in the event industry are particularly evident during the current pandemic. These are mainly the vagaries of external factors: from little things like the weather to economic lows to a pandemic.

How did the job search and later application phase go?

Thanks to the contacts I had made during my practical year, I didn't need to look for a job after I graduated, as I received job offers from both the advertising agency where I had worked for the first six months and from a self-employed event manager from my time at Hubert Burda Media. Since I had noticed that my heart beats mainly for the event industry, I decided to go for it.

Less than a year and a half later, I was no longer able to work at the event agency due to the Corona pandemic, so I started looking for a new job. Due to the industry crisis, there were few jobs advertised and the few that existed were all the more highly sought after. I therefore applied for jobs partly outside the industry - hotel management, university management, PR. After four months, six applications and three interviews, I had two offers to choose from.

What would you tell fellow students that study at HMKW?

Take advantage of the close contact to your professors and lecturers - as well as the (voluntary) project work, the additional offers and especially your practical phase!

 

I tried to take everything I could during the four years: Job offers from my profs, coaching training, video production workshop, excursions to companies, visits to trade fairs... This helped me incredibly to find out what I like and what I enjoy. I also learned a lot and was able to impress people at job interviews with my skills.

What opportunities do you see for your professional environment despite the crisis? What are your forecasts regarding the event industry in general?

As the name suggests, the Media and Event Management degree program covers two areas. While the event industry is currently facing major challenges, of course, media management is more important than ever. After all, due to the lockdown, we are all increasingly using media to work, to stay in touch, to store and to have fun. The technologies and creative ideas for what is possible online, among other things, are therefore in demand. And that's where the two areas come together again, because the event industry can also currently benefit from this.

In my job in the public service, I can see what has changed in the past year. The processes there are certainly slower than in the private sector, and yet I have now implemented a whole series of events in hybrid form with great success. Of course, it takes a bit of time to create the technical infrastructure, to find the right platforms, to enable interactivity and, for example, to make music and catering possible at a distance, but it works.

Thank you for the exciting insights. We wish you all the best and much success for the future.