Learning Portfolio: Prince’s Trust – Tourism (20,000 words)
I received a nice warm welcome at the Prince’s Trust as an intern; mainly because the Trust works with many volunteers and interns. The orientation process was awesome, going through all the offices, auditorium and perusing through some clips and files holding the record of some of the past events handled by the Trust that qualify as remarkable.
Kolb’s theory of experiential learning is not only well accepted in the United Kingdom but also world over. Before I started working as an intern with Prince’s Trust, we were required to comprehensively read
I was working in the events department at the Prince’s Trust as an intern. The Trust organisation has particularly designed this program to enable the attaché to put into practice his/her theoretical knowledge into practicality. The Trust has also designed the program in such a manner that the attaché is able to learn more about the difficulties and challenges that people in various walks of the social ladder in the United Kingdom are facing. I was able to effectively contribute to the local industry through competitions, aid and constructive event management.
With the help of my supervisor, I was able to develop work-based skills like having a clear purpose for running any particular event that I was assigned. I had to learn what the people wanted first and then gauge whether it’s something I could provide within my capacity as an event manager “in the making” then. I had to gauge the capacities we have in terms of financial prowess, human skills and the legal maxims surrounding the event before endorsing it. And the most important thing was to gauge whether the event will be successful under my management.
An Overview of Prince’s Trust
The Prince’s Trust is a charity organisation established in 1976 in the United Kingdom. Founded by Charles the Prince of Wales, the aim of the organisation is to provide help to young people. Prince’s Trust provides a wide range of training programmes, financial grants and mentoring support with a view to building motivation, confidence and high self-esteem among the young people. The organisation usually works with young people that are seeking opportunities for employment, training, education, and volunteering.
In the category of the unemployed, the Prince’s Trust majorly focuses on those that are in trouble with the law, those who have been under care and those facing difficulties in school. Employed people may also join the Prince’s Trust for training in their respective courses. Other than being a fundraising initiative, the organisation is also used as learning and development opportunity.
Prince’s Trust offers the following types of charitable activity:
- The Enterprise Programme- it helps young people to start their own businesses
- The Team Programme- it offers the participant a lot of work experience, practical skills and access to community projects. The program lasts 12 weeks.
- Get Intos- these are short courses that offer a lot of training and work experience in specific sectors of the market. They help young people to land on jobs in the market out there.
- Development Awards- these are small monetary grants provided to young people in order to help them through training, education as well as securing a job.
- Community Cash Awards- these are grants that help young people to set up a project that will effectively benefit the community at large.
- xl clubs- these are clubs particularly designed for young people in school who stand the risk of underachievement or exclusion from school.
- The Fairbridge Programme- this is an individual programme meant for people aged between 13 and 25. It involved group and support activities.
The Prince’s Trust also provides both local and pilot programmes. It has numerous business mentors that enrich young people with life skills.
As a student intern in charge of event management, my job description was wide:
- Ensuring that the firm has quality delivery and excellent customer service
- Overseeing project budgets from the start of a project to the end
- Making onsite inspections and managing project events
- Providing motivation, leadership, support and direction to the work teams
- Managing all the administrative and operational functions with a view to ensuring that specific projects are delivered efficiently
- Managing relationships with suppliers
- Communicating, maintaining and developing healthy relationships with clients
- Setting, developing, communicating and maintaining priorities and timelines on each project
- Developing, producing and delivering projects right from the proposal of the project to final completion
- Delivering company events on time and within the budget in order to meet the firm’s objectives and client expectations
Under directions from my supervisor, I was responsible for proper service delivery to all clients in within the service provision jurisdiction. I was also charged with ensuring that the plans of all charitable activities within Prince’s Trust are implemented according to the plan.
LEARNING OUTCOMES AND WORK EXPERIENCE
At the end of the module, I was expected to:
- Understand the whole process of conceptualizing an event, creating it and developing its appropriate theme
- Understand the whole process of planning, organizing, directing and budgeting for a charitable event
- Know all the various types and categories of their events and all their impacts
- Understand with a terrible exactness the importance of marketing and raising funds successfully for the day to day operations of a charitable organization.
- Understand the logistics of events, execution thereof, shutdown and eventual evaluation.
- Develop the necessary skills required to organize and manage events at my workplace
A major issue with event management is that it needs to attract many people so that it is attended. Organizing an event without any kind of attendance lowers the morale of the organisers and leads to resource wastage. The events had to be the greatest memorable attraction with a vivid picture and longing beforehand. And I also learnt that the memorability and ability of an event to excite the audience largely depended on the venue selected, the nature of presentation of the event, the material used and any other unique aspect in the event itself.
With the help of my supervisor, I agreed that good events don’t just happen by accident or chance. Just like we say that good managers are not just born but made through learning and experience in real life situations, event management also underpinned that maxim (Griffin, C, Holford, J, Jarvis, P). And with the analogy of a parachute that accelerates the pace as you near the ground, event management also gets tougher as you near the even itself. Therefore, I learnt that adequate planning in advance is very essential to the success of an event. The event day should be a matter of coordination and enjoyment rather than struggling to adjust plans to make a jig-saw fit.
Proper event management not only leads to the financial and reputational success of the organisation but also improves the self-esteem of the participants. There are cases in the past when the Prince’s Trust carried out events that injured participants and left some scars. Of course this damaged the reputation of the organisation partly. This was a wakeup call to the Trust that safety of all the participants and organisers is paramount. I learnt that an event manager couldn’t assume that the venue where the event would take place, because it is managed by a reputable company, is safe. Therefore, an event manager needs to have a safety code with which to crosscheck the conditions at the venue because if some of the members get injured then a number of the event’s objectives may not be achieved.
Some events have been properly planned and organized but they have turned out unsuccessful because of the dates picked. Therefore, an event manager must pick the most appropriate date for the event. Even though sometimes the manager is forced to fix a given date without proper consultation, it is always good to make consultations from the participants and invited guests. This was particularly helpful with public fundraisings where a late notice resulted in a very low attendance. It was also important for me to find out whether the event date we were planning on clashed with other events that would require the attention of many of the would-be participants.
When I went to the Prince’s Trust, I thought I would stay in the office most of the time but I was surprised that I spent less than 20 percent of the time in the office. Fundraising events were the most involving and I had to spend most of the time attending to logistics rather than the theoretical part of the whole thing where most weight is laid upon. For instance, there is a time we were planning a private fundraising and we didn’t book the venue in good time. When I went there to book, I was surprised that it had been long booked more than a month prior yet the event was to take place in a period of two months. I had to make inquiries from other providers and then book an apartment in the last minute. It was unfortunate that this wasn’t the kind of venue we wanted but lateness in making inquiries and booking cost us dearly. We had to pay because the event never turned as colorful as we had thought it would be.
I learnt the finer details associated with the venue itself. An event manager may land on the most reputable event-holding site but if the facilities are not coherent then there will be a big problem. The facilities, car park, accessibility and distance from airports also played an important role in site selection. This was more important particularly in private fundraising because most participants had busy schedules. The cost of moving from the major terminals, highways and airports is also factored in. considering all these, sometimes I had to select a more expensive venue even with somewhat compromising facilities in order to ensure that the audience is happy. Catering facilities were also important especially depending on the would-be cultural practices of the invited guests. If, for instance, you invite Muslims to the event then you should be careful about pork and the accepted code of dressing.
I also learnt that the general rules with regard to the content of the event programs didn’t apply by default. Even the supervisor with over 10 years’ experience in event management always treated each event anew. Through him, I learnt to consult widely before developing the program outline. This was more especially very important because what is good to you may not be the right thing per se. Everybody in the events department and a few of the participants were always consulted widely before coming up with the program. In Prince’s Trust, such a program is referred to as a team program.
Communication, even though regarded a natural occurrence by many, proved to be the most powerful skill behind a very successful event. A daunting task, I had to communicate with all the delegates before, during and after an event. I had the privilege of meeting delegates from all walks of life. Most of all, I appreciate the professional touch that I learnt and applied when speaking to the delegates. While the supervisor left it all terming the pre-requisite to be common sense application, I was a little tense but I learnt that I was handling human beings like me all the same.
An essential part of all Prince’s Trust’s programs is allocating speakers. All events require a speaker. And therefore one of my duties as an intern event manager was to source for the right speakers having in mind the event. Since most of our events involved raising funds and presenting awards to participants, we had to look for motivational speakers who are role models in the society. Depending on the participants, the reputation of the speaker in the public domain was very important. The speaker could come from the organisation or from outside in many cases. However, many events required an external speaker who could also challenge members of the Trust. More often than not, we had to develop the agenda that the speaker was supposed to address. This was very challenging because you have to assume that you are a speaker yourself yet you are only a novice in event management.
All the lessons I learnt from our successes and failures in planning and managing these events played a very vital role in my course.
Demonstration of Learning Outcomes
The Trust has a well moulded organisational culture that has developed over the years. Unlike the view that many people have at the back of their minds that the firm is managed by the royal family, the only relationship it has with the royal family is the founding. Otherwise, everybody works quite independently in line with the Trust’s strategic plan. All meetings are managed at departmental level. This is much like the usual corporate firm dispensation where all the activities that the firm deals in are coordinated from a central focal point. Promotions are entirely carries out on merit because during my time, two people were promoted based on their performances during the previous financial year. The retiring head of logistics was replaced by a senior officer in the events department while the chief accountant, who had been employed the previous year, received a promotion because of her skills and hard work. Therefore, she left many members who had been working there holding the same positions. To me, this was a good business maxim that applied a general rule of fairness. Even though I expected a few people to complain about this promotion, I was surprised that all of them were happy and satisfied. Perhaps it was also attributed to the non-aggressive nature of operation in charitable organisations.
My supervisor, having handled many interns before, advised me to keep a track record of everything I was doing. He reviewed my work at the end of each day for all the days both of us reported to work. Knowledge and ideas in the Trust were shared across the table during regular meetings. (Izard, M.O., & Reverte, G. F. 2011) The free flow of ideas and information across all the departments contributes to high cooperation and teamwork success. However, this was dependent on the knowledge statements developed by the events department.
Prince’s Trust, in order to increase and ensure optimum effectiveness and efficiency in carrying out their operations uses Watt’s 1998 event planning process. It begins with the idea proposal which is analyzed within the confines of the internal environment and how it will affect the external environment. The feasibility study always follows. After collection of ideas about holding the private fundraising
The Trust has developed the two-tier definition of the definition of an event. This was important for personal convenience and business reasons. According to the business articles used by the Trust an event is a one-time event or infrequently occurring one outside the sponsoring body or normal activities of the firm. It was also defined as a special opportunity for socio-cultural experience or leisure outside the participants’ day-to-day range of leisurely choices (Getz, 1997:4). The first definition lays its focus on the organizers while the second definition is meant for the delegates and participants. This was a tall order to comprehend but it’s clear that as the organizer you must prepare for it like no other so that the participants can relate it to no other.
There was nothing more important tied to an event than planning as I learnt in the Prince’s Trust. Because of the unique nature of each event, planning is a process which must continuously take place from the start to the very end of the event (Catherwood & Van Kirk, 1992:32). While events can be staged without any formal planning, we couldn’t stage an event without prior planning despite the urgency. One of the events that I recorded with awe in my learning journal is an event where we were promoting innovation in creation of fundraising ideas. Many of us always worry that we can’t start a small business because we don’t have money but I discovered that there were thousands of ways through which one can raise money for a startup. And unlike this information age where everybody turns to the internet to obtain insight and ideas, I learnt the process of obtaining ideas by primarily scanning the environment. And inviting members to participate in the program wasn’t difficult. Every member of the Trust sent a text to their friend and requested them to do the same. At the end of every week we made follow-ups for four consecutive weeks. The event attracted 304 participants. This was a simple way of raising business ideas and brainstorming without a lot of logistics.
According to Kolb, there are three major learning styles in life. These include acquisition, specialization and integration. Having acquired basic skills in life majorly through development of the cognitive processes, one proceeds to school where major lessons in the curriculum, early work and some experiences of early adulthood are incorporated. The third stage involves integration of the knowledge acquired beforehand from mid-career life to the later life. Prince’s enabled me to sprout through specialization with the help of the roots of the earlier cognitive processes.
Before handling any event in the firm on my own, I had to consult widely most of the time. I also had to learn some practical lessons by observing the nature and order of events in the organization. For instance, development of a work schedule wasn’t easy, especially for events that took the whole day. You must create time for interaction, exchange of personal contacts and coffee. I also learnt to appreciate time management. According to my journal, the event manager was taken to task one day when he scheduled a meeting with a delegate and he delayed to reach the venue by two minutes because of heavy traffic. Unlike the Australian culture, lateness is not tolerated in the United Kingdom. When fixing events, one must be sure to meet the timeline stated therein. Even though I was not the one who was involved in that ordeal, I felt for the event manager. Later on, he told me that that wasn’t something new in Britain. One huge learning outcome from that incident was the fact that you must know the culture and norms of the people you are dealing with as an event manager. Though the meeting between the event manager and the delegate went on successfully, the event manager told me that he even though it wouldn’t have been successful after all.
One memorable event in which I was personally engaged was the private fundraising with some organizational representatives from many Commonwealth countries. Organization for this event started early enough; by obtaining a letter from the Royal Queen of Great Britain. Some delegates who run charitable organizations in their individual countries also came there to find out how we were doing with the logistics. Through the Royal Queen’s seal, we drafted letters of invitation to representatives in all Commonwealth countries. I was involved in making calls to the representatives to confirm that they had received the letters. We had intended that the event becomes public knowledge so that more stakeholders could come and assist us to raise money but we had to change it at the request of many dignitaries who wanted their involvement to be shelved far off from the public domain. I argued against that suggestion owing the estimations in funds I had in mind but as Kolb says, I had to learn by accepting the arguments of other members of staff and grasping experience by participating (Damm, S. 2011). I then preferred to watch how events would unfold as I do the menial tasks I could as a trainee. Later on, the event manager approached me after that meeting and asked me how I felt when other people shut down my suggestion. Of course as a human being you want your voice to be heard but I told him that I’m learner. I like the friendly approach he always gave me whenever I seemed left alone. Nonetheless, I learn several lessons from that experience alone.
In the absence of the hotel manager in one of the venues that we always used to stage our events, delay seemed inevitable because the manager had traveled to South Africa on a business meeting. That document was needed in France within a few hours and I felt someone else in the hotel could sign that document so that we could go ahead with other fundraising arrangements. We had called the manager severally but he never picked. According to Kolb, 1984, one of the most popular emotional responses given to a task is the transforming experience where the learner selects whether to think upon the situation or develop deep feelings. However, as a problem solver one does not only feel about it but also go ahead to act. I decided to try and call the reception at the suite where they were holding a meeting and explain to them how importantly we needed that document signed. That’s how the manager left the meeting, received the document by fax, signed it and then faxed it back to me within five minutes. To me, this was the actual conceptualization of a process, however delicate it appeared. Of course I don’t imagine that the French delegate would have refused to listen to our explanation if the manager failed to sign the document but that was only to come as a last resort.
Dynamism at Prince’s Trust
The Trust is quite dynamic in the way it carries out its activities. Several criteria are used depending on the nature of event. In many fundraising activities, the dignitaries must be recognized and fully identified. However, the British also indicated in the cultural shift because in the events when the Royal Family was in attendance, issues of protocol never featured at the Prince’s request. Among the invited guests were heads of various parastatals within the United Kingdom, heads of nongovernmental organizations and high commissioners of other countries within the borders of the United Kingdom. Other than the usual bureaucratic tendencies observed in public events, we had entertainment from an invited group of artists from Wales. The fundraising was overwhelming, owing to the high sense of humor held by some high commissioners. Over $1 million was collected in cash and $2 million in pledges. Considering that this was a private fundraising that didn’t attract much publicity, this was a lot of money.
One of the skills I acquired is that of coming up with numerous fundraising tips. In every event, we had to begin by setting a target that we wanted to achieve. By perusing through the records of various fundraising events and looking at the roll of all the invited guests present at a particular event, I could easily tell approximate the amount of money that we expected to collect at every event. My supervisor, a man with a sharp innovative and engaging mind, always welcomed my input. In most fundraising events we had the minimum target set as the equivalent of $1.5 million; a sum that was almost obviously attained.
The conceptualization idea put forward by Kolbs states that learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes. This was practical in the sense that the donor market had to be assessed continuously in order to come up with a list of the invited guests. I had the opportunity to learn when to use the individual donor markets and the corporate donor markets or both. The approached applied in making contacts with donors throughout the world wasn’t something easy but I learnt to handle all the donors, including the Heads of State of some countries.
I worked in the finance department, a very essential part of the organization. They were charged with collecting funds on behalf of the Trust and also controlling the trend of expenses incurred in the firm. Many of the finance team members had a wide range of ideas and I was actively involved here in order to acquire the practical skills in an all-round level. I was involved in designing unique ideas to capture online donors to click on captions and then make donations. Among the ideas were free eBooks, some free training on event management videos and many others. More often than not, I applied the processing continuum to learn by preferring to learn by watching and actively participating. This practice also helped to reduce the losses that the firm had incurred in the previous years because of experimental learning.
Successful Fundraising Tips and Strategies
Fundraising money for the Trust not only motivates and inspires everyone associated with the organization but also fosters a great team spirit that often leads to a sense of shared achievement within the firm. When the process is driven carefully then the wider community is encouraged to participate in a more active role. New challenges during every fundraising event often arise and more chances and opportunities to achieve the firm’s goals also arise. By allowing other organization to publish their fundraising press releases on the Trust’s website, the firm achieved more publicity in the public domain.
There are a number of employees in the Trust who used the network of their family members and friends to fetch more guests for the fundraising events that were held. By actively being involved and crossing over to other departments that don’t directly involve my specialty, I was able to apply almost all my academic understandings particularly through hands-on experience while acquiring new information at the same time. Prince’s Trust is a highly innovative organization that accommodates new fundraising ideas. For instance, I came up with the idea of super-cards where all the visitors invited to the fundraising gala were supposed to buy a super-card for others, who would in turn buy those cards for others. We nominated one of the invited guests during a public fundraising event to buy a$1.5 card for somebody else, who also bought it for somebody else. There were other cards labeled $7.5, $15, $75, $150 and $450. Members of the organization couldn’t believe how this strategy worked because guests started competing to buy those cards. I borrowed that idea when we raised money for a friend of mine during their colorful wedding ceremony in Alice Springs.
Fortunately or unfortunately, many of the lessons I learnt from the Trust were not necessarily practical because many precedents have been laid down from time immemorial. However, one tip for raising funds was obviously ensuring that the amounts raised exceeded the expenses incurred to run the organization. Tracing back from the roots of the first fundraising in 1998 when the Trust collected only $105, 600 when their budget for all the expenses was $108,000, it was established that a cost benefit analysis must be conducted before going ahead with a fundraising plan. We used a three-pronged approach to assess the current situation before planning ahead for another event (Watt, C. D. 1998). This is broken down as follows:
- Stakeholders- we had to determine the previous target audience, the sponsors who assisted the Trust, the donors (starting with the most influential ones), other supporters and volunteers who in most cases play an important nonmonetary function that is invaluable. Volunteers, in most cases, assist to get sponsors for an event.
- Competition- this is perhaps the most important part of the whole planning process. We had to list down all the current competitors in terms of charity work not only from their target audience, but also from the activities that they were doing. Each time they carried out an event we had to send a spy there secretly to help us do a competitive benchmark of their activities. I had only one chance to be sent there and keenly observe all their activities. This helped the Trust to come up with new strategies during each event. Therefore, event planning to me seemed more of a daunting task than the ordinary walk in the park that I had thought it to be.
- Performance- before planning ahead for an event, we had to carefully assess what happened in the previous year. This is a task that could even take us three full working days in order to avoid repeating mistakes from the previous financial year. We also had to ensure that every event we plan accurately meets the overall objectives of the Trust. In cases where an event didn’t meet the objectives of the firm then we had to enlist the possible alternatives that could help to realize the planned goals.
The next step was to align all the specific objectives particularly with financial means and other major resources at the epicenter. These goals varied widely from one event to the other. In line with the objectives were the donors’ expectations in terms of usage of the collected money. The next step was development of an action plan. Each single objective needed its own action plans and I was actively involved in drawing out all the action plans related to all events in my department. For instance, we said in a planning for a private fundraising event that we needed to secure an equivalent of $150,000 for the day to day business operations, raise $50,000 for awards, and $300,000 for donations. We had to specify who was to be in charge of what so that we have accountability and responsibility at the end of the day.
We had to clearly draw out work plans and set the targets we thought would be obtained at the end of each particular objective. I had to specify the exact figures and expectations to be attained at a given day. Of course this was made possible by tracing from records to see what took place in previous similar events. The criterion to be used for measuring success also had to be determined and followed. For each event we had to draw a contingency plan just in case difficulties arose along the way. Various project monitoring tools were used. These include the program evaluation review chart.
Overall, the experiential learning model applied during my tenure in the firm quite well. As Scott Gravina says, experiential learning provided me with the opportunity to increase the level confidence in my abilities, to discover new innovative ways of doing the same thing in order to make it more challenging and effective. I was able to overcome obstacles many times and turn the theoretical knowledge obtained in class into a real lifetime experience.
Getting Registered and Attracting Sponsors
For each charity fundraising event, we had to be registered in accordance with the Laws of the United Kingdom. We had to make an application for every event in order for us to receive donations and get licensed. Once the event is registered, we have to roll out a plan to helps us attract sponsors.
An important lesson I drew from my industrial training is that you need long term business partnerships and corporate sponsors in order for you to lower the costs incurred as much as possible. Recurrent expenses in every event include web hosting, printing posters, placing ads on TV and radio, basic utilities and traveling here and there. It was surprising that many sponsors don’t have limitations as to the extent to which they can sponsor but one thing was clear: you have to be very specific when approaching them. Our long term partners who have been supplying stationery for seven years now were partners in meeting all the publicity costs for one public fundraising event every year. They obtain publicity by paying for these ads so that both the Trust and the sponsor gain in the process. If a sponsor does not gain through an event then there are slim chances that will accept to sponsor the Trust another time. However, there were no losses on the sponsors’ expectations during the period that I was there.
Since event management entails everything related to the event, we had to appoint a committee to attract sponsors in good time. I was appointed as a committee member to attract sponsors for an event that would take when I would have left—presenting awards for xl club excellent participants. First, we came up with a budget of $2,000. We used the previous networks, social media and relied much on the previous committee members to obtain sponsors. We had to reassess just to ensure that the partnership would be mutual. Some sponsors are notified a year earlier to the event because of financial planning so we had to draft proposals speedily. We came up with a good marketing plan through sponsorship proposals, brochures, industry newsletters and a website. Personally, I was involved in developing online promotions because am good in art and design. We opted to meet the sponsors within the UK in person rather than just relying on phone calls in order to create a higher personal impression.
We conducted a risk management assessment to find out whether there are any potential problems that would possibly surface. This we did by involving our partners in making suggestions as to which kind of activities we would be involved in during the event. This was meant to minimize losses and disappointments.
One of the major events that the Prince’s Trust deals with is team building. The team program is free to enroll for anybody aged between 16 and 25 years. It doesn’t affect the candidate’s jobseekers allowance at all. Employees who want to improve and skyrocket their interpersonal skills are also free to join so that they can improve their long-tern career objectives and aspirations. According to the Trust, this program enables the students to better their chances of landing on a job in today’s highly competitive job market, acquire more education and training exposure. Other than providing an opportunity for me to gain new skills in my discipline, the team program gave an opportunity to acquire new skills particularly from the experienced team members.
The team program is a nationally recognized qualification hence my chances of finding a job in the United Kingdom are actually safe. Not only was it a chance for me to make a big readable difference in my community but also a golden opportunity for me to improve my confidence immensely. I love the way the Trust works because they allow you to expressly select community projects that you prefer to plan and undertake. However, I feel that sometimes this does not expose a volunteer or intern to the more challenging aspects of the whole issue. Even though the firm is quite democratic and open in carrying out all its activities, I thought they should have also had a community project where an individual felt that they lacked the required so that they could get exposed to those skills.
Some of the community activities I participated in include cleaning the local town and cleaning the compound in a children’s home. There were a whole host of other activities that I could have taken part in but I had many duties assigned to me at the events department. As I worked along with other interns and volunteers, I was virtually exposed to my strength and weaknesses. For instance, two of my colleagues said that I had a strong initiative with a desire to achieve most of my plans while another colleague said that I’m a bit conservative. The first observation was made when I rushed to take a taxi in order to reach a delegate who had forgotten their envelope at our office while the second comment came because I was afraid to clean some glass houses in children’s home because I thought I would break it. While all those appeared to me as ordinary circumstances especially in relation to event planning, I was advised to go ahead and write them down.
Over time, I was taught to undertake new challenges while effectively harnessing all my strengths and improving on my overall approach step-by-step. Consolidation and analysis of all events helped me along with all my team members to correct our mistakes and improve on techniques used. And of course an important tip I picked from the Trust is that in future, I have to keep testing my team’s ability to maintain a very high level of performance from the start to the completion of the project. I also loved the convenience provided by the Trust Management in terms of the programs. We had a single day program and a multiday program that ranged even up to two weeks. This provided me with the opportunity to select the most convenient one for me so that I could create more time to attend to other core activities in the events department.
Enterprise and Development Awards
Over last year alone, the Prince’s Trust helped more than 54,000 young people in various awards and programs offered. The awards usually come in two ways: the participant may receive cash to help him/her to undertake more educational training as a way of enhancing their skills so that they can easily curb unemployment. Else, participants may receive support in setting their personal goals, making proper and informed decisions as well as finding other programs that offer support. This is done with the help of a Trust volunteer.
All UK residents aged between 14 and 25 years are eligible to enroll for these programs. These participants had to be part of the Trust’s four primary target groups, have education and training or some work-related goals. I was delighted to take part in many of the firm’s programs where I learnt more skills in the area of event planning and management. At the end of the course, my supervisor actually nodded to me that I had acquired the practical experience of work that I needed to start my own small event management business. I coached two young people and improved their employability skills including one who had a poor attitude towards female employers. He had a presumption that all female employers are usually too harsh, emotional and they are not understanding most of the time. I advised him to start viewing women differently because we can’t reverse the current stage of evolution and development. At the end of the day, I helped him to acquire the necessary skills for handling female bosses and other female workmates.
I was also part of the team that helped to stage a get-together event where all the participants would share their experiences and exchange a few skills here and there. I was overwhelmed to learn that six of the current staff members at the Trust never intended to work with charitable organizations but after participating in development awards, they developed unending interest and came back to work with the Prince’s Trust.
This is the platform that enabled me to learn to use the company’s software programs. All the four concepts of Kolb’s learning cycle were effectively applied herein (Wendroff, L.A. 2004). First, I had to learn the general rules of operation and acquire a username and password to be using for the same. The first and most important part of the learning cycle was active experimentation where the learner is supposed to jump in and do it. Since I had the knowledge of programming beforehand, it was very easy to implement this one. Moreover, there were written instructions to guide interns since there are several interns in that organization. I checked through the company’s awards log and got details for every type of competition. Reflective observation followed as I had to think of what I had just performed and the impact it created on other programs stored in the database.
Operating a computer program is undisputedly a continuous process, especially for a novice like me who only had a few basic programming skills. Abstract conceptualization was at its best during these stages as I had to read the manual in almost every transaction with a view to obtaining a much clearer grasp of what was actually taking place. And now much like an experienced guy, I used the help tips of the program to obtain solid experience in maneuvering around with the program. At the end of the day, I was able to assist new interns to make use of the program; just like someone who had used it for several years.
Experiential learning is very important particularly in meeting the current demand for skills in the world labour market. According to Kolb, more occupational skills can actually be acquired at the workplace rather than through lectures. After completing the learning practicum in class, I gained practical knowledge and drew vivid lessons through apprenticeship opportunities. The Trust added more skills to my lifetime vitae through constructive learning and working cooperation with other interns and volunteers. Rather than exclusively applying the reflective approach in Kolb’s learning cycle, I had the opportunity to observe, watch and participate at the same time in order to acquire a single skill. For instance, this was important when taking part in the development awards offered. Therefore, I also support the critics of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle that it is not mandatory that one will only apply a single skill in each of the four approaches. Depending on the nature of task, one can actually combine several skills in order to achieve the desired results.
Obtaining Media Attention
An important part of the whole process of raising funds for the Trust’s operations was obtaining media attention in good time. Publicity helps to improve the firm’s image and magnify its reputation out there. My supervisor spelt out the activities we needed to do and avoid as the events team in order to attain good publicity. In the second week, we started creating a publicity plan for raising funds systematically. The first step was to align the firm’s goals and objectives to medial requirements. On focus was the schedule of activities in the Trust’s annual calendar.
Managing any event where the Royal Prince would be in attendance was always the simplest because the Royal Family advocated that the least of expenses incurred. The following steps helped us plan for every event (Thorpe, S & Clifford, J. 2007):
- Stating the event’s goals and objectives
- Arranging all the critical facts and data from the most immediate similar event
- Studying the current news coverage for charity events, the style applied the media’s preferences
- Writing news releases that fit with the needs of various media houses
- Making a follow up in order to fill any informational gaps and then confirming that coverage has been done.
We also had to ensure that humor is included in any event because many participants treat these events as an entertainment ground while from the Trust we treat as the job or profession.
Like every other organization out there, the Prince’s Trust had its own share of challenges. Even though the United Kingdom has some of the world’s most charitable organizations, opposition and criticism was always looming in the air. For instance, we tried to approach a sponsor and they clearly said that they would not take part in a charitable activity with a charitable organization for several reasons. He said that charities are businesses and not charitable bodies per se. He also added that it is very difficult to uncover cases of fraud in a charitable organization—which is very true. Other sponsors also said that they wouldn’t like to meet administrative overheads and marketing costs as part of their contributions for the underprivileged in the society.
Well, these were hard nuts for me to crack but my supervisor told me that not everybody in the world is always happy with your success; hence a given level of opposition is expected. And just like a government, the opposition keeps you on toes. Honey and Mumford’s model of learning was quite essential here. According to Honey and Mumford, there are four stages to problem solving and decision making:
- Having the required experience
- Reviewing and carefully reflecting on the experiences drawn
- Drawing conclusions from experience and then drawing one’s one conclusions
- Drawing a plan for the next steps by putting theoretical precepts into practice
In handling some of these claims, I had to depend on experience—which I didn’t have. However, from common knowledge, one of the suggestions I made to him was that he can privately send an intern or a volunteer to come and spy on the activities of the organization. Concerning overheads, the day to day operations are more or less an annual budget which has never been exceeded and everyone knows it. I showed him some of the company’s financial records and he agreed. I also told him that we use the most optimal marketing model in order to minimize the costs incurred. As an event manager in the making, I gave him some of the mathematical and probabilistic methods we used to analyze and select the best and most economic marketing style and media. Surprisingly, he agreed to my arguments and promised to become one of the sponsors in a private fundraising event. According to Honey and Mumford, I proved to be a pragmatist with concrete experience even though I was an activist—actively gaining experience.
Working at the Prince’s Trust enabled me to fulfill the six learning outcomes rolled out by the Trust. Most important I understood Kolb’s process of conceptualizing an event, creating the event and then developing it to fit the appropriate theme. I also understood the whole process of planning for an event from formation of the idea to execution. Within the context of charitable organizations, I had exposure to different types of events and the categories thereof together with their impacts to the organization and all the stakeholders.
With an example of a public fundraising event that was carried out back in 1999 with little publicity and the poor collection, I learnt the importance of proper publicity. I also got to understand the importance of marketing the event and raising funds in order to meet all the activities of the Trust. I had the opportunity to understand all the logistics associated with event management, execution of the events, shutting the events down keenly, and review and evaluation after the event. The Prince’s Trust was more than a training ground because I acquired a host of skills required by an event manager to organize and manage all the events in any organization. Indeed, I felt that I can manage any range of events at the end of the day.
My Strengths, Weaknesses and Achievements
One of my strengths that were pointed out by my colleagues was that I had great initiative for handling tasks. It has always been my nature since childhood to handle tasks when they are due rather than postponing them for a time to come. Procrastination, my father said, cost him becoming a millionaire at a tender age. I wouldn’t have preferred to fall prey to the same trap. I therefore carried out all my activities strictly according to the program lineup.
Charisma was one of my strengths that were pointed out during placement. Even though the argument comes out with more logic than charisma itself, it was still regarded as a major problem. This happened when I managed to convince a corporate personality that trusts were not fraud and embezzlement schemes with inner corruption cycles. After use of evidence, figures and logic, the corporate personality accepted to become one of the Trust’s sponsors in an upcoming music gala. Charisma presented itself because my supervisor told me that they had failed to convince many critics to the point that they would accept to become part of the Trust’s dream team.
I demonstrated a high degree of teamwork coordination and leadership. Perhaps this is attributed to the fact that I was the leader of an entrepreneurship we began back at our home estate to invest in old greenhouse projects. That’s why I could easily take the lead when going out with other interns and volunteers on a mission. I also took a lead role in preparing event schedules and timelines effectively. I was a great team player as well and ready to accommodate other people’s ideas. However, I always felt that my ideas should also be accommodated too but I also learnt to lean on reason more than anything else.
My supervisor described my communication skills and abilities as apt. I was always able to read the mind of many delegates, find out about their cultural backgrounds a little as well the culture of their organization. Knowing well all these, I was able to make contributions in assisting the event manager in allocating various members of staff the duty to approach various personalities and corporations for sponsorships and donations.
After realizing that I was working under a supervisor who was very open and accommodating, I was always free to discuss all my experiences with him without any kind of fear. Therefore, at the end of the day I would openly discuss with him my achievements and failures for the day. Therefore, I discovered that I was a good self-evaluator, always having marking points and expectations to lean towards. I could quickly recognize and accept my own flaws before it was too late all the time. This is always an important skill for any manager.
Another strength that I realized I could demonstrate though it wasn’t clear initially was my ability to be a good customer service executive. At my best, I was very polite to the customers and I was able to distinguish the Prince’s Trust from its competitors in many ways. For instance, we are the only ones who were willing to show our customers files of financial records over the years. This kind of transparency is a big plus for the Trust.
My weaknesses as well were also revealed. For instance, my supervisor told me that I am quite risk averse. Not that a don’t care attitude was required but sometimes an iron head kind of argument is needed to get some activities rolling. The most vivid was the budget we were making for the awards gala. I strictly argued that using tables, stands and other items of glass was not only a high expense for the Trust but also posed a great risk because breaking them would attract squabbles with other stakeholders. While there was strength in the argument, it was largely portrayed as a weakness according to the standards of the Trust. My supervisor regarded it as pessimism of the highest degree but I left the firm with the initiative to improve on it.
Even though I had a convincingly good profile, there are times I failed to consult in matters where I little experience of, especially when I was out there. It is true that someone can’t consult on all matters but there are some areas that I was clearly out of place and I needed to consult in order to do the right thing. This occurred twice; in the children’s home when I couldn’t communicate with a dumb child and at the Trust when I couldn’t execute a certain program. However, on looking back, I accept that those are areas that I seriously need to work on.
Future Career Aspirations
It has been one of my lifeline dreams to become a manager in any given organization. It is with a deep desire that I am highly motivated and inspired to enhance all my professional skills in order to advance through any organization’s hierarchy level to become the top man.
I have a great zeal for entrepreneurship. Even though entrepreneurial opportunities in the field of event management are largely dependent on an area of expertise, I would like to be associated with developing from grass to grace an event management company that would generate leads in the market and lead as others follow.
Borrowing from the old English saying that the beautiful ones are not yet born, it’s obvious that I’m not the best. However, I know I can create a mark in the world rather than a dent. Therefore, one of my career aspirations is to continuously improve my skills and working abilities so that I can become more beneficial and valuable to my society at large.
There are times that I have been perturbed and left agape by failures in various endeavours. It may be mixed with a fraction of success but the failures tend to carry a lot of weight. But I don’t want to remain in the same island all my years. That’s why I boldly want to remain innovative, experimental and learn from any occasional failures.
Employability Skills Learnt from the Prince’s Trust
Being at the Prince’s was more than a blessing and an endorsement to my future employability skills. I acquired a whole lot of employability skills. Some of them include:
- The ability to learn and adapt- together with other volunteers and interns at the Trust, I learn the art of becoming enthusiastic about my work and constantly identifying new ways to learn from my current mistakes. In this way, I was able to benefit my both the employer and myself.
- Negotiation skills- the Prince’s Trust team taught me to effectively take on board the feelings of other people and then expressing my own requirements in a very unemotional way with a view to creating a situation where both of us become winners.
- Working under pressure- the whole idea of working under pressure has to do with effectively managing the stress related to deadlines and delivering the work in good time. Even a deadline that naturally seemed impossible to attain was always attainable when I was working with the Trust. It was coupled with instantaneous initiative and the ability to solve any arising problems within a short time frame.
Chaturvedi, A. 2009, Event Management: A professional and Developmental Approach, Global India Publications Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, India
Damm, S, 2011, Event Management: How to Apply Best Practices to Small Scale Events, 1st edn, Diplomica Verlog, Hamburg, Germany
Getz, D. 2005, Event Management and Event Tourism, 1st edn, Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA
Griffin, C, Holford, J, Jarvis, P. 2003, The Theory and Practice of Learning, 2nd edn, Kogan Page Limited, New York, USA
Izard, M.O., & Reverte, G. F. 2011, “Tourism Development and Events: Analysis At A Local Scale In Catalonia,” Journal of Event Management, Vol. 6, pp.18-20, The International No.2
Kirk, V, L, R, Catherwood, W, D & Young & Ernst. 1992, The Complete Guide to Special Event Management: Business Insights, Financial Advice, and Successful Strategies from Ernst & Young, Advisors to the Olympics, the Emmy Awards and the PGA Tour, 1st edn, Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA
Kolb, A. D. 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, 1st edn, Prentice Hall, Beverly Hills, USA
Stephens, M & Moskotwiz, J. H. 2004, Comparing Learning Outcomes: International Assessments and Education Policy, 1st edn, Routledge Falmer, New York, USA
The Prince’s Trust, 2013, The Royal Prince, 2 June 2013, < http://www.princes-trust.org.uk>
Thorpe, S & Clifford, J. 2007, Workplace Learning & Development: Delivering Competitive Advantage for Your Organization, 1st edn, Kogan Page Limited, London, United Kingdom
Watt, C. D. 1998, Event Management in Leisure and Tourism, 1st edn, Wesleu Longman, Addison, Texas, USA
Wendroff, L.A. 2004, Special Events: Proven Strategies for Nonprofit Fundraising, 2nd edn, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey, USA