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Events education vs Events experience

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

Had I not been a 19-year-old craving some excitement and big change in my life I would probably not have gone to university. And for so many different reasons I chose to apply through clearing and 10 days later I was in London on my enrolment day and looking for somewhere to live. To me this was one big adventure but to my parents and people that loved me, too big of a decision and one I should think a little longer on.

In hindsight, they were probably right. I might be much further in my career and no student debt 'hanging' over me with no end in sight. I may have found a role within the industry and gone up through the ranks. But then I wouldn’t have met my partner and have the confidence I have in myself now if I hadn’t gained some life experience. I also lived the London lifestyle for 8 years and had a lot of fun. That is something I'll never regret.

My issue is this, there is not one thing that I have learnt in university, be it life skills, people skills or actual knowledge, that I couldn’t have learnt from being in the industry with an entry level job being paid £18k - £24k a year (okay, may only be the case in London), and not lumped with a £25k debt for being at uni for 3 years. The course content for me lacked in substance and never truly went into depth about what it's like day to day working at a venue, or an agency, or corporation. Tutors were uninspiring and failed to engage me, some hadn't worked in the industry for some time and lacked any insights into what the future held for the events industry - I bet they never saw this coming...

My university hours was 8 a week so not even a full working day. 8 hours of face to face teaching time a week to me was disappointing. Some days it was 1 hour in a classroom and for me I saw little point. I was frustrated and thought that I could work 40-50 hours a week in events gaining skills and it would be a better use of my time but I had made the decision to 'run away' to uni and stuck with it. I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to attend university, but the reality is always a little different.

And unlike the rest of the country, the uni experience in London is different. Going out 4 nights a week wasn’t a thing as travelling to the clubs was a long journey and the drinks prices were far too expensive. Rent is generally double the price and whilst you get a higher loan (if you’re lucky) it barely covers the cost. A job is pretty much a necessity in London and that is where I spent most of my time.

From reading this peace I am clearly for experience over education, but that shouldn't deter you if you are thinking of going to university. I don't have experience of other universities and there may be others doing it better, and the curriculum improved over time. Do your research and really think about what you think is the best path for you. Are there apprenticeships you can get on? Paid internships? A mentor within the industry? Is a short court for you? There are also some brilliant online courses available now if you wanted to get a general understanding of the industry that are highly recognised worldwide with the Event Academy LinkedIn Learning has some great content and many wonderful podcasts that share their event day stories. See below for recommendations.

- Like an #Eventboss with Juliet Tripp and Carrie Abernathy

- Events for Breakfast with Kelly Frew

- 1up in Events with Nicola Roodt

- RSVP with C&IT Calum Di Lieto

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