Second year Events Management student at the University of Huddersfield, Lauren Thirsk, is looking forward to adding to her event experience as a student volunteer at the Conference & Hospitality Show (CHS19) for the second year running, next week.
The CHS Group has welcomed students to take part in its volunteer programme for almost 10 years, as part of its continued commitment to ensure the industry can be relevant and an attractive career choice for millennials. Seasoned student volunteer, Lauren Thirsk shares her view.
This is your second time as a member of the student volunteer programme at the Conference & Hospitality Show, what are your reasons for doing it again this year?
“I have volunteered for other events, but they’ve been at the University, so last year I took part in the student volunteer programme to get me out of my comfort zone, it was the first opportunity we got to work in an actual conference environment.
“I really didn’t know what to expect but as a show-maker, I got to do a lot of work on stage and the wider arena, and it really helped me to understand what working in large-scale events can be like in a real conference situation. This year I volunteered because CHS18 was so friendly, I enjoyed it hugely, and it has really helped me with my studies.
“I’m able to refer back to real-life situations and experiences as part of my coursework and understand how to apply the theory into actual practice. Nicky Wilkinson and the CHS team made us feel so welcome and it was fantastic to get to meet attendees and understand from them, what makes a great event, and what they want and expect from CHS.
“On my course now, it is easy to spot those who have taken part in actual events and volunteered at large scale conferences, you can see what they have gained from the experience, and everyone who didn’t take part, wishes that they did. There’s an element of being thrown in at the deep-end, but if you want to work in conferencing, having an ability to react quickly and effectively and apply that theory to real-live situations, is an integral skill. We’re covering MICE this year and the experience of CHS has been invaluable in that respect too.”
You’ve clearly gained a lot from your experience last year, what are you hoping to get out of CHS19 and the tenth anniversary?
“I’m working with another coordinator on the welcome party and on the day I’m on AV registration and the demonstration stage, but as you know, that can easily change on the day so it’s about keeping on my toes and being ready to react.”
Are you looking forward to taking part in CHS19?
“I can’t wait, I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a nice break from revision as it is exam season soon.”
Has this experience helped you to decide if you want to work in conferencing and events as your future career?
“Yes, it has made me more determined than ever to get into this industry, I have already organized a position in New York for my placement year and the experience I gained at CHS really helped me to understand what this will entail.”
Based on your own experience, what would you say to other students unsure about volunteering?
“I would recommend anyone studying events to get as much experience, volunteering or otherwise, as you possibly can. You must see if for yourself and understand if this is the industry for you. If you haven’t volunteered, or experienced it, how can you possibly know. I would strongly recommend anyone involved in events, or who wants to consider it as a career, to get involved. You’ll never know until you try it, and once you have, you won’t look back!”
Emma Cartmell, Chief Executive Officer at CHS Group, said: “We have a close working relationship with the University of Huddersfield, and it’s a joy to see students gain valuable experience and confidence taking part in CHS. Lauren is one of the many outstanding students to come back as part of the CHS team. It is great to see their passion grow for the industry and the invaluable skills that they learn as volunteers, that help them to become the event pros of the future.”
The show, held at Leeds first direct arena, will take place on Tuesday 30 April and will see over 200 national suppliers exhibiting. The one-day showcase event will provide attendees with the opportunity to discover a diverse range of academic and independent venues, hotels and event suppliers.
CHS19, Tuesday 30th April, Leeds first direct Arena.