Ever wondered what it takes to put together an event? We spoke to YPIA Project Manager, Celine about her role at the British Museum.
Membership and Supporter Events Manager / Museums
What's your job in a nutshell
My job is to programme and deliver engaging events for Members and Supporters of the Museum. This involves taking an event from start to finish: from the initial idea to managing all the logistical and practical elements, to being there on the day to make sure things run smoothly.
What qualifications/experience do you need?
Relevant experience in events management is key but jobs may also ask for a degree.
Best bits of the job
I love coming up with really fun and exciting ways to engage people with museums, especially for an audience who already know it so well. It's a fun challenge to reimagine the collection and bring it to life. It never gets old seeing people enjoy an event that started as an idea in your head.
I also think all the planning and preparation that goes into events is really interesting. The aim is that visitors have no idea how hard everyone behind the scenes is working! I really enjoy piecing together all the details - you really have to think about everything.
Probably my favourite part about my job is that I get to work with so many different people: from bestselling historians and world-leading experts to security and visitor services, it's a huge team effort to deliver an event. It's so rewarding to build great working relationships with people and collaborate with teams who are great at what they do.
Downsides of the job
Accepting that you can't control everything! As much as you can spend hours planning and preparing for an event, sometimes there's an external issue that's just out of your hands. In the moment, all you can do is proactively respond and keep things positive but it definitely takes practice.
Working in events also involves lots of late nights, early mornings and weekends spent onsite. Although you generally can take the time off in lieu or get paid overtime, a busy month can be exhausting, so it's really important to schedule breaks.
What does a typical day look like?
It's a cliché but my days really vary as I look after every part of an event. As well as lots of time on emails, liaising with internal teams, speakers and agents, I also mark out time to work on new formats and ideas. We plan at least 6 months in advance so I'm always looking ahead! Across a week, I would also generally be managing 2-3 events, which could include anything from large scale sleepovers and lates or much smaller tours and exhibition viewings.
What was your route into your role?
I definitely didn't have a fixed route into my role. I studied history at uni and I knew I wanted to work in museums (and preferably within engagement). I volunteered at the National Trust on lots of their large scale events and I then did a paid placement in France with the CWGC during the centenary of the First World War. This involved giving tours, doing historical research and supporting with public events. I then worked for a vending machine association covering their events and social media. It might seem a little random but it really strengthened my events skills and meant that in interviews, my passion for heritage was backed up by practical events knowledge. I started as an Events Assistant at the British Museum in 2019 and worked my way up, going from Coordinator to Manager.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into events?
I studied history at uni which was useful to show my passion for museums and gave me lots of soft skills like writing, editing and time management. However, it's definitely not the most important factor when it comes to working in events.
It's most useful to have experience in delivering and creating events but your initial step doesn't have to be within the arts and you can always make your own experience. Putting on your own events or volunteering at places you already enjoy going to is a great ways to upskill yourself. Just because you're not working within an institution, it doesn't mean that your own projects can't become useful experience.
If you want to get in touch with Celine about getting into Events Management feel free to contact her via LinkedIn or email her at email@example.com