Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication, Arts + Social Sciences › Psychology
SFU Co-op Student

Image of Miranda
Nothing is foolproof, especially when you’re dealing with so many finely-tuned details.

My time in co-op has unintentionally guided me into event planning. I never deliberately discredited the idea, but event planning seemed like a job more suited to meticulous, extroverted busy bodies. My first event taught me how stressful planning could be. The multiplicity of tasks and deadlines that you’re required to manage is overwhelming and can certainly make you question your sanity. However, the more events I planned, the more I honed my organizational and creative energies. This lead me to discover the incredibly rewarding potential that event planning holds. The following five best practices are the keys to success in this career that will help you stay afloat.

Person with stickies on and all around them
Know How to Use Your Resources

One of the most important skills for event planning is resourcefulness - knowing how to use the tools available to you. The Internet is your best friend when it comes to sourcing venues, caterers and speakers. Equally as important are any pre-existing documents and research from previous events. This information is a gold mine because it not only means that you don’t have to start from scratch, but it will also tell you what has and has not worked in the past. You can also use your co-workers’ opinions as a valuable benchmark of what is to be expected.

Row of sticky notes on wall
Stay Organized, or Else

The stress-inducing potential of event planning arises from the wealth of details involved. Hotels, travel, menus, sessions, speakers, attendees and invitations… the list goes on. Being organized is the key to your survival. Organize yourself in a way that helps you to understand the tasks at hand, impending deadlines and details of your research. Project management tools such as agendas, calendars, and an amazing program called Trello are invaluable for showing you the progress you’re making toward the end goal.

Light bulbs hanging in a row
Be Innovative and Creative

The beauty of event planning is that it’s a blank slate open to any ideas you may have. The rewarding feeling that comes from good reviews is well worth the stress leading to the event. So what defines a great event? Individuality.  U n i q u e n e s s. Something that STANDS OUT from the rest. You’re in an advantageous position as a co-op because you’re not privy to how things have been done in the past. You’re able to bring a whole new set of fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Giving people something they’re not use to can be risky, but you’ll score big points if you can pull it off.

Person stretching over back of chair
Remember to Breath

Face the facts. There’s lots going on in event planning and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. If you start to feel the brain fog, remember to take a step back and breathe. Grab a coffee. Go for a walk. Innovative solutions cannot be reached if you’re stuck asking all the wrong questions. A well-deserved moment of peace is crucial to the event planning process because it can help you find the flaw in your method. You may realize that your “great” ideas were actually garbage, and finding better solutions will only lead to a better event.

Person holding a telephone in each hand while crying
Be Prepared for Things to go Wrong

As an event planner, understand that inevitably things will go wrong. Nothing is foolproof, especially when you’re dealing with so many finely-tuned details. Always have a back-up plan; more importantly, learn to think on your feet, react fast, and make quick decisions. As catastrophic as your mistakes may seem in the moment, there is always a way to get back on track as long as you remember to use your resources, stay organized, think creatively, and breathe!

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Miranda on LinkedIn!
visibility  141
Mar 24, 2016

You Might Like These... During the Work Term, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Communication

Co-op coordinator wth student during site visit
Make the Most of Your Co-op Site Visits

Your Co-op Coordinator, supervisor, and you in the same room -- time for a site visit! Co-op site visits are a time for reflection on your work term including what could be improved and what has been great so far.

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.


Picture of Katelyn smiling
SFU Home to Canada’s Top Co-op Student

SFU Biology and Biochemistry Co-op student Katelyn Mueller was awarded the 2008 National Co-op Student of the Year award from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education during National Co-op Week, March 23rd - 27th, 2009.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Lauren in a costume
What Co-op has Taught me About Education

As Lauren wraps up her final co-op term, she looks back on her incredible time with Parks Canada and the lessons she's learned during this experience.

Image of the Author
5 Tips to Manage an Obsession with Emails

The distinct ping of a notification at work often leads to a reflexive action in many of us. Do it, check the email. Sasha Zalyvadna shares her experience on how to combat the need to check work emails more often than one probably should.

Headshot of Yeow
Fumbling My Way to Competency: A Self Reflection of My Fears

Did I exaggerate my capabilities? Will they think I’m a disappointing hire? These were some of the questions that plagued my mind when I first stepped into the office. The fears worsened as I started to learn about my expected workflow, and I wondered if I was out of my depth.