Breaking Blues: on the road to becoming an event industry pro

Ella Howlin' at the Moon

‘I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.’ – David Bowie

My name is Ella, and I graduated from College of Event Management, Sydney in December 2013. I am now on my way to achieving my goal of becoming an event industry professional. I might still have a way to go, but I know I’m on the right track.

In January this year I resolved to make the almost 900km move to Melbourne. I am often asked why I chose to relocate, and the truth is, I took a chance. On arrival in my new home I frantically began the search for employment, yet unaware of the awesome experiences and opportunities Melbourne had in store for me.

My first point of contact was naturally College of Event Management, Melbourne, which was newly open at the time. ‘Perfect’, I thought, they will definitely be able to point me in the right direction! I reached out to industry guru Boris Kelly via LinkedIn, and to my surprise he invited me in for an interview. Our meeting was successful, and I am now the Office Manager at the Melbourne Campus.

With a little encouragement I also began volunteering at some local events in order to better understand the eclectic Melbournian events industry and, most importantly, begin to establish my network in this vibrant new city. After participating in a few events around town, not only did I start to get a taste of what Melbourne events were all about, but I also began to become familiar with Melbourne as a city and the outstanding lifestyle this location has to offer.

In addition to these valuable new insights, I experienced what was possibly the weirdest, most entertaining, and downright bizarre night of my career to date, working at an experimental performance art event at 24 Moons in Northcote. It was totally out of my comfort zone, but that’s another story (and not for the faint hearted), all I’ll say for now is that it involved copious amounts of fake blood.

With these exciting new experiences under my belt, I felt ready for the next step. I started to ask around to see if anyone had more hands-on roles to offer me, and I was met with an opportunity to promote my own gig at 24 Moons, the very same venue that, only a few weeks earlier, had me wiping fake blood off centre stage! Initially I was so startled to be offered this exciting opportunity that I felt unsure about taking it on. Just thinking about it made me feel equal parts sick and excited. But I thought to myself, ‘Isn’t that feeling how you know something is going to be worthwhile?’ So I pressed on, and began developing my concept for the event.

Music is my passion, something that I have always had an affinity with, a common thread throughout my life. Unfortunately, I don’t have a musical bone in my body…with the exception of an ability to construct epic playlists, and a habit of staying up all night enthusiastically researching bands. Fuelled by my passion for music, I decided to dedicate the event to Melbourne’s thriving blues-rock scene.

I started researching like crazy, but there was still something missing. I began discussing my plans with my colleagues and some students of the college: one in particular really connected; Desiree. Like-minded in both musical taste and work ethic we hit it off instantly, and it seemed only natural that we should work on this event together. This is when everything fell into place: working together we were able to secure four great blues bands for the gig; and decided to name the night ‘Howlin’ at the Moon’.

The ability to bounce ideas off someone who was on the same page definitely proved invaluable in engineering the event’s success. Over the coming weeks we busied ourselves planning the night, making many valued contacts in the local music industry. Desiree and I also spent a few late nights in bars ‘researching’ bands, and to be honest, this is the part we both really revelled in! The thrill of finding an incredible band in a dingy bar at 1am makes all the hard work worthwhile. It might not all be glamorous, but to us, it’s the perfect way to live!

Event day finally arrived, filling me with keen anticipation for the night ahead. All our late night and meticulous planning paid off, the night ran incredibly smoothly and we received excellent feedback from all parties. To our delight, we were even invited back by the venue to do another show there in the future.

Super Saloon playing at Howlin' at the Moon

Super Saloon playing at Howlin’ at the Moon

There are definitely a few things we would do differently next time, but overall I’m proud of our efforts and really grateful for the learning curve. Two important lessons really stood out from my experience working on ‘Howlin’ at the Moon’:

  • The first was to never be afraid to ask for advice. I know this event would not have been as much of a success if I wasn’t surrounded by a culture of true event professionals at COEM who were always more than willing to offer their advice and professional knowledge.
  • The second was a lesson in bravery. If I hadn’t left my comfort zone and thrown myself in the deep end to take on this opportunity, then I wouldn’t be in the position that I am today. From relocating my life to a new city, to working with 24 Moons, I have had to take risks along my journey – but as the old proverb goes, ‘A ship might be safe in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for!

It has been an exciting road, and not without its challenges and surprises, but my journey into Melbourne’s events industry has only just begun. Desiree and myself have big ideas for the future, and are already eagerly planning our next event.

Thanks for reading, and watch this space!

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