Skills & Expertise

What Does an Event Coordinator Do?

It isn’t all red carpets and celebrities. Get the skinny on this in-demand (and often demanding) job

Event coordinator is a job that pops up on the job boards, and, admit it, you’re intrigued.

Makes sense. You’re a gnarly negotiator and masterful multitasker who’s all about the details, and you love a good par-tay. Ever thought about becoming an event coordinator?

Yeah, we thought so. No time like the present. Check out the wisdom of an industry insider and decide if this job is the one for you.

What exactly does an event coordinator do?

Day-to-day duties often depend on where an event coordinator works and what needs to get done.

In general, an event coordinator puts together events, tackling anything from client meetings to cleanup. Responsibilities may include preparing budgets, scouting and booking locations, conducting press outreach, lining up sponsors and celebrity guests, and securing food and drinks.

Duties on the day of the event include overseeing support staff, including florists, caterers, DJs and emcees. Depending on seniority, an event coordinator may instead spend the bulk of her time performing essential administrative duties or assisting event planners and managers.

During her three years as an event coordinator for Macy’s, Christian McKenzie had her hands full pitching potential vendors and talent, processing invoices, working with the legal team to draft terms for service contracts and managing relationships with clients, including celebrity handlers.

“Depending on the size of an event, the preparation could take months or even a year,” says McKenzie, now a business account manager for Sears Holdings Corporation.  

What skills do you need?

Your negotiation skills should be rock solid to lock in the best possible prices with clients and vendors. Good communication skills are also a must. You can’t manage relationships with clients and vendors without them. Being detail oriented and deadline driven is also important.

And you have to have stamina, says McKenzie, who logged plenty of night and weekend hours after putting in a full day at the office. You don’t always get to quit at quitting time in this line of work.

Who is an event coordinator’s boss?

An event coordinator may report to a director of events, but it largely depends on the way a company is structured. At some companies, an event coordinator assists or reports to an event manager. At others, responsibilities mirror those of event managers.  

Are there other titles with similar responsibilities?

Production assistants’ and public relations associates’ roles at some agencies are similar to event coordinators.  

What do I need to get ahead in this position?

“Impress your manager with a skill that no one else has,” says McKenzie. Excelling at pitching and securing sponsors is a great way to start; hone your abilities and continue to develop by taking classes or finding a mentor to help you develop professionally.

You should also go to networking events to meet potential sponsors and clients. And stay on top of what’s going on in the industry by reading trade publications.

How can I get my foot in the door?

A degree in marketing, public relations or hospitality is helpful but not required. Experience, however, often is.

“It’s the internships that make the difference,” says McKenzie. Seek opportunities to beef up your resume and make yourself stand out. And don’t dally. Get the jump on the competition by interning while you’re still in school. You’ll be that much closer to landing your first job after graduation.

Check out event coordinator openings and other hot jobs on Mediabistro’s job board.  

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