Students create grand events and gain experience

The special events management program is geared toward hands-on learning

Usually the first thing someone thinks of when they hear the title ‘event planner’ is weddings, but that is only one small piece in the grand puzzle that is the events industry.

Throughout George Brown College’s (GBC) special events management program, students learn about various aspects of the industry, from the basic principles involved in planning and executing an event, including negotiating contracts, getting sponsorships and marketing.

By fourth semester, they are expected to take everything they learned and apply it by planning an event, where half the proceeds go to scholarships for the program and the other half go to a charity of the group’s choosing.

GBC’s special events management program is one of the largest in Canada, graduating hundreds of event planners every year. Program coordinators have fostered many connections with industry professionals, and as a result students are expected to organize events that match the high quality of work that has come to be the standard from students.

This year, students are putting on 11 capstone events, running from mid-March to mid-April.

“We wanted to have a party all about dogs,” said student Jaspreet Singh. Singh is part of the team organizing Yappy Hour, a dog-themed event taking place at Purina Pawsway on April 6 where guests can interact with dogs while enjoying food, drinks and a variety of vendors.

“Toronto is known for being a dog-loving community and we wanted to get some dogs a home,” Singh said. “We also thought it would be a great way to give back to a charity of our choice.”

The charity the group will be giving half their proceeds to is called Save Me Dog Rescue. Singh said that the rescue has the same vision as the organizing students.

“They rescue homeless and abandoned dogs from high-kill shelters and owners who no longer care for them,” said Singh. “Save Me Dog rescue are hoping to have their dogs adopted into healthy, happy homes and by working with them we hope to find them their forever home.”

For student Alex Costello, part of the event planning program’s value is ensuring its students get first-hand experience with organizing events, and all of the challenges and opportunities that come up.

“Hands-on learning experience is so important for this program because they teach you how to deal with conflict in a professional and effective manner,” she said. “Additionally, hands-on experience allows us to network with future employees and partners that we could end up working with in the future.”

Costello and her team are organizing Heroes vs Villains: The Hunt, an interactive event taking place at One King West on March 29. Guests can complete missions for prizes, with donations for the night going to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, which supports Ontario’s publicly funding child and youth mental health centers.

“Our choice to support this specific organization came from our theme and the connection between superheroes and children,” said Costello.

For student Stacey Watson, organizing events with budgets and fundraising targets is a great way to implement lessons from the classroom.

“There are some things that can’t be taught in a classroom and these events give us the opportunity to gain real life experience,” said Watson.

Watson and her team are planning Humans of the North: The People of Canada, an interactive art event that is taking place on March 30 at The Great Hall and aims to showcase Canadians and their stories through portrait photography.

“In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, we felt it was important to not only celebrate our multicultural nation, but also the rich, diverse and inspiring stories of the Canadians who make up the people of Canada,” said Watson.

Watson said the event was suggested by team member Emilie Carrey, who volunteers with SKETCH Toronto, as a vision for a photography project to raise money for the charity. SKETCH Toronto provides creative training initiatives for street-involved, homeless and at-risk youth.

For those wanting to take in some music for a good cause, there is the Open your Ears Music Festival, which is taking place at Adelaide Hall on April 4.

According to co-organizer Carlee Render, the aim of the students behind the festival is to encourage those with accessibility needs to experience the show.

“We want to bring together those who are hearing impaired or have hearing disabilities and allow them to experience a music festival in way they could never before,” said Render. “The one thing our whole team of 15 students had in common was music.”

The group chose to support the Canadian Hearing Society because they wanted a charity that directly benefits Canadians and by extension the hearing impaired attendees at their event.

“The hands-on method as part of this program has allowed us to fully grasp exactly what is done in the real workplace of an event planner, while still getting to explore our own creative ideas within the industry,” said Render. “Our passion for event planning has strengthened with the ability to follow our own creativity and create a real event.”

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Students create grand events and gain experience