Turning a love of spreadsheets into an event management career

Turning a love of spreadsheets into an event management career

We all know someone who excels at making every occasion a complete success. With natural flair, they design and coordinate events down to the last detail.

Among her family, La Trobe alumnus Catherine Dreis stood out for her ability to do just that. She shares how studying a business degree prepared her for a diverse event management career, spanning corporate conferences, community festivals, weddings and more.

La Trobe Bachelor of Business (Event Management/Marketing) graduate Catherine Dreis launched her career with mature age study at our Bendigo campus. Image credit: Supplied.

In 2011, my family and I moved back to my hometown of Bendigo after several years in Brisbane. I’d been working in administration and office management, and although I was confident in my skills, I realised it was more difficult to get a job in my thirties than it had been in my twenties. I didn’t have a formal qualification, so I decided to go to uni.

I love being organised and I love spreadsheets. At my sister Lil’s 21st birthday party, I took the reins. It’s just my personality.

I thought I’d have to travel to Melbourne to do the Bachelor of Business (Event Management/Marketing) degree. But I came to La Trobe’s local Open Day and met lecturer Paul Willard, who told me that the course was also held at the Bendigo campus. Once I found that out, my decision was made.

When I started my degree, my goal was to work in the City of Greater Bendigo Major Events office. In my first year of study I volunteered to help with their Easter Festival. The next year, I helped coordinate the Easter entertainment in the park for my work placement subject. All up, I put in about 200 hours of unpaid work with the team.

I was offered a paid job working on the Bendigo Easter Festival six weeks before graduation. Every year we came to the festival as kids. Those memories are one of the reasons I love the festival. It’s been an amazing experience to see it from the other side.

Taking this position required a big commitment of time and organisation, as it meant balancing studying with working full-time. In the role, I coordinated the marketing and sponsor management for the Bendigo Easter Festival, as well as the Christmas campaign. I oversaw the lighting of Bendigo’s Christmas tree, installation and removal of Christmas decorations and the Bendigo Community Christmas Lunch.

event people eating and socialising event management
From coordinating large community events to working one-on-one to design conferences and birthdays, a career in event management offers a world of variety. Image credit: Unsplash.

I’ve now relocated to Geelong where I work as an Event Specialist at The Pier Geelong. This position is very different from the one with City of Greater Bendigo – there I was coordinating large community events, whereas now I’m working one-on-one with clients to manage everything from corporate conferences to birthday celebrations.

Studying at La Trobe Bendigo provided me with events industry knowledge and my work experience put this knowledge into practice. It developed my skills and gave me the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience in the event management field.

When I first told people I was studying event management they all responded with ‘So, you’re going to plan weddings?’. But almost all companies have an events coordinator now – this role gets into everything. I’m excited to see where it leads me.

Looking for a fast-paced career that blends creativity with organisational prowess? Study a Bachelor of Business (Event Management/Marketing) at La Trobe.