Thursday, July 23, 2009

One of the Best Days

July 20, 2009:

Today was a regular busy day, until the phone rang....

Mark Sheldon called me to see what I thought.

The Internship would consist of working for the following three companies: AOO Events, Inc, TFS (The Flower Shop),
and Images by Lighting

For me, it will be triple the exposure, experience, and contacts. I will have the wonderful opportunity to work hand-in-hand with these three companies, who are all industry leaders. It is a win-win situation, from every angle I look at. Mark asked when I could start, and we decided my first day would be August 4, 2009!!

As I hung up the phone, I couldn't believe what just happened. Timing was perfect and my prayers had been answered. In two weeks I would be starting my internship in Los Angeles, California!!!! I will no longer have to say "What if...?" I can say "I did.." I could not be happier about the situation that I am in right now. I feel completely comfortable and so excited about packing up and driving 1,600 miles to California. I mean its only 24 hours and 8 minutes according to Mapquest : )

I do know one thing for sure, I would not be in the situation that I am in right now if it weren't for the love and support of all of my family and friends. They have been the ones who have kept me motivated, reminded me to stay positive and have patience, and told me to chase my dream in order to "do" something I loved, and most importantly have faith that everything will work out. Thank you SO very much! I am so blessed and grateful for this opportunity that I am entering!

Starting the Climb

Over the last month, AOO Events, Inc. VP Operations, Mark Sheldon and I have been in contact via email and phone. The early emails consisted of: Mark letting me know that AOO Events, Inc did have a summer internship available, discussions of what I was looking for, and scheduling a phone interview (7/9/2009). For those of you who don't know, AOO Events is located in Los Angeles, California.

After talking to Mark on the phone, he thought that a joint-internship with another company would be the best opportunity for me. I really like the fact that Mark is respectful of my time and truly wants me to get the most experience for traveling across the country. Mark contacted at least four other companies about doing a joint internship. On Wednesday (7/15/2009) Mark had heard from two of the companies. Neither were able to participate due to already having interns, or not having as much scheduled during this time. I was a little discouraged but remained hopeful that everything would work out. I was so close to having an internship, and was keeping my fingers crossed that surely one of the other companies would want an intern. Friday (7/17/2009), I received a phone call that not one of the the companies, but both wanted to do a joint internship, details of the companies would be emailed to me. I was suppose to look over the companies and then we would talk Monday.

Where do I start?

The first half of my summer was full of Weddings (in one, worked one, went to several), a garage sale, the Whitt family reunion in Florida, and visiting friends and family throughout Arkansas! After I had my fair share of "play" time enjoying being a College Graduate, it was time to get busy. During this time, I had several leads in both the event and marketing industries in Little Rock. However, I felt I would always question myself if I settled for either.

I was wanting to land an internship in one of the top "Event Cities," and to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible about the industry. I knew if it was meant to be, it would happen. Just on God's timing, not my own. I had come to the decision that I would give myself July and maybe August to find an internship. Then I would be crazy not to accept a Marketing job in my hometown. I could always accept something in Little Rock and work on events in my spare time. If you know me, you know that I would only be "Okay" with this idea if I had tried 110% to get an internship. So this "internship" was my new task and what I would concentrate on for the next few weeks.

The week of June 29, I began researching all of the ISES (International Special Events Society) Esprit Award Nominees. I researched the websites looking for certain characteristics that stood out to me. Then I emailed different contacts to see if they had internships or any advice from me. One of the responses came from AOO Events, Inc. President and Creative Director David Merrell.

"...My advice is simple. . . “do what you love and the money will follow!” That may sound a little esoteric, but it’s fairly simple. . . if you truly love this business, it will take you exactly where your dreams lead you. It’s true for me. Other advice would be to do exactly what you are doing now, research the companies that you like in the part of the country you are wanting to live and go after them! And finally, wherever you land, be a sponge. You can learn only so much from books (which is more than I learned, I have a degree in accounting), but what you will learn from being in a company will complete you. Dive into whatever company you work with and learn learn learn, there are different methodologies on how every company provides services and how they treat their employees. It’s hard to say what is right and what is wrong as that answer will come to you. But learning both lessons of what to do. . .and what not to do. . . will be the best schooling you can possibly have...." -David Merrell

I received Mr. Merrell's email on June 30, 2009. Less than a month later, his VP of Operations has literally bent-over-backwards to help "some girl from Arkansas" get an opportunity of a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Baby Steps in the Right Direction

My senior year of college flew by. Before I knew it, Spring was here and the magical "What Now" question was on everyone's mind. Including my own! I decided to focus on finishing school strong and let the rest fall into place! Looking over the last few months, I am so thankful for that attitude!

Throughout college, I was active in my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. I was chosen to be the Activities coordinator for 2008. This meant that I was in charge of Derby days, Greek Sing, and all Homecoming festivities. At the University of Arkansas, Homecoming challenges include: the Blood-drive, cook-off, create-a-hog, flag football tournament, lawn competition, parade/float, and pep rally. Homecoming week was by far my favorite sorority activity each year. This year it was an 80+ hour work week for me. And it opened my eyes to something I loved: designing, planning, organizing, and executing events.

In the Fall 2008, I also volunteered at two non-profit fundraising events. The first was in October in Memphis, Tn. I helped decorate and set-up for the Victory Ranch Fundraiser which was held on the rooftop of the Peabody Hotel. My friend Chelsea and I have worked at the Christian Outdoor Adventure Camp ( for the last 3 summers prior to the event. We helped the Founders and Directors (and Friends), Dennis and Anne Smith, set up for the fundraiser. It was a very fun day! In December 2008, I also helped our Kappa Chapter Advisor, Anne Jackson with a fundraiser for the NW Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Volunteering with SPSF that night was very rewarding.

Fast forward to March, I realized that Graduation was 2 months away and I had no idea what I should do with my life. My sister sent me an email with links for event planning internships. This is when I made up my mind of what I wanted to do! I got connected with Jenessa Bailey with J. Bailey Occasions in NW Arkansas ( and asked if I could volunteer with her. She told me that I could get a taste of a "hectic" day in the life of a coordinator if I wanted to volunteer Sat. April 25. I volunteered to help out with the Brides for the Cure Group (starting at 6am) which participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Then Jenessa, Ki, Gina, and I prepared for the wedding ceremony and reception that would occur that night. At 1:15am, I was on my way home from the 18 hour workday and I had a smile on my face, because I loved every detail of this day. In this moment, I knew I had a passion for this industry...