What should my meeting planner wife do for a new career?
June 2, 2009 3:37 PM   Subscribe

My wife is a meeting planner, but is getting sick of it, what other careers can she pursue with those skills?

My wife is a meeting planner, not a party planner, but a 8,000 people in a convention center, meeting planner. However she is growing tired of this industry. Trying to figure out what else she can do with her life.

She is:

* The most organized person I know. I mean scary organized. She can take any chaos and make and organized system out of it. This includes not just people, but seeing how systems should work.

* Has lots of business experience. She almost literally grew up in an office.

Her undergrad is in sociology, but she has done nothing with it.

So far we have thought about starting her own organizing business or perhaps going into organizational development.

So I guess the question is what can a professional who is very very organized do as a career?

I should also note: this can be a long term thing. For example build to something over two years...but full time school is probably out of the question.
posted by UMDirector to Work & Money (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Project or program management - I'm a manager of a training program at a university where we train medical professionals, and it's super detailed, highly organized, strict deadlines and deliverables and involves managing of lots of little pieces to make the whole work.
posted by tristeza at 3:43 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try universities and colleges. They need organized employees to coordinate a wide variety academic programs.
posted by snugglebunny at 3:55 PM on June 2, 2009

Best answer: Before I make any suggestions, let me disabuse you of an incorrect assumption: organizational development as a field has little to do with being organized (although some OD professionals are very well organized). The term "organizational" means "company" in this case. Organizational development is simply the fancy umbrella name for team-building, training, and so on.

Now onto the career advice: Much of what your wife does as a meeting planner would translate well into things like project management, industrial engineering (which would probably require a master's degree), office relocation/greenfield projects, facility mergers/redesigns, etc.

I could also see her making a smooth transition into being an office manager (for a professional firm), although there might not be enough pressure and thrills in that for her. Ditto for running a call center or other customer service facility.

But now a question: What is it she dislikes about being a meeting planner? She needs to think carefully about this and let that be a guide, so she doesn't end up moving into a different career that relies on the very same things she dislikes in her current career. Once she can articulate what it is she enjoys and doesn't enjoy about her career, she will be in a better position to generate and evaluate alternatives.

If she needs some structure to help her think through these things, this book is one I often recommend to clients to help them decide on a next career.
posted by DrGail at 4:06 PM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: I think she might just dislike the corporate world.

She has worked as a planner for a number of companies but overall has gotten fed up with the idiocy of people not taking it seriously - not communicating with her department causing massive stress, etc. She loves certain aspects of it (the actual planning) not so much the dealing with people, I think. That being said she loves dealing with vendors, just not the people in her actual company outside her department. This has been typical at most of her companies.
posted by UMDirector at 4:22 PM on June 2, 2009

I have a friend who was a freelance event planner, which probably requires similar skills. She now organizes the volunteers for a university hospital.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:38 PM on June 2, 2009

Best answer: Could you please send her over to politics, particularly campaigning, which needs organised people to deal with the rest of us, who are nutters.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:03 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Three observations:

- There's no money in politics...
- An undergrad degree usually has nothing to do with one's eventual career(s)
- An interest in Sociology usually is useful for an academic career, although I suppose you could apply your skills to marketing if you can design and conduct effective surveys

Your wife is a project manager, although the deliverable in this case is an event. I would be curious to know if she is involved with negotiating sponsorships, or negotiating rates for the venue.

She probably has an extensive network of contacts thanks to her work, and hopefully a lot of happy customers.

If she doesn't like the corporate world, she should try working for a smaller company (as a PM).
posted by KokuRyu at 6:51 PM on June 2, 2009

What does she like about her current career, and what does she hate about it? That'll probably help people direct the two of you a little bit better.

Can she come and help me straighten out my life, please.
posted by bettafish at 7:17 PM on June 2, 2009

freelance/start her own MP business. MPI may also have networking resources that could help.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:33 PM on June 2, 2009

Best answer: Would she be good as an industry expert for writing software for event planners? And interested in working for a startup? I'm a developer currently looking at the niche for a software product. I'm game for a phone chat. Email's in profile.

If she doesn't know about them already, ISES, MPI, and ABC (for bridal consulting) are the three big professional organization groups; she could join for networking to see what else is out there. There are lots of people doing very different types of work in the field.

MeCo is a google group of event professionals.

Also, search twitter for #eventprofs and ask this question (in 140 characters!) during one of their twitter parties.

Good luck!
posted by nonmyopicdave at 11:15 PM on June 2, 2009

Seconding university management. We actually have fellow in our office who works with 4-5 program directors to plan about 150 small and large programs per year for students and scholars. One seems to need to be able to envision the larger strategy to figure out the optimal way to coordinate resources based on what the directors programming goals are, be super, super organized to be able to juggle and implement whatever plans they come up with, understand and be able to navigate through a myriad of university rules, and have the people skills to good cop/don't fuck with me, that deadline is there for a reason so meet it cop, with folks whose intellectual gifts don't always include the ability to plan their way out of a paper bag.

Oddly enough the guy I mentioned is working there while he finishes up his PhD in sociology. Anyway, sometimes these are Administrative Assistant positions but the better paid, more responsibilities one are called Analyst positions, or program analyst, program administrator, program manager, and the like. Usually it's nice because hopefully what you are planning is meaningful in some way.

Maybe she could check out university job boards or the chronicle of higher education to get a sense of what might be out there.

Good luck!
posted by anitanita at 11:18 PM on June 2, 2009

If her frustration is primarily with not being taken seriously (presumably because her work isn't the primary function of the organization) she could look for a job where her work would be the primary function of the organization.

Perhaps a professional organization or other large voluntary organization that sponsors a big annual conference. For many professional organizations, the annual conference is a very big deal and in the top 3 most important things they will accomplish in a given year. She would probably have fewer problems with people not communicating with her on it.

If she really likes the work, a new setting may refresh her enthusiasm for the career.
posted by jeoc at 8:54 AM on June 3, 2009

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