Event planning class teaches students real world experience

Every semester, students at California Lutheran University have the option to sign up and take the Event Planning class, COMM 443.  Taught by professor Tom Smith on Monday nights from 6-9:30 p.m., students taking the class learn how to plan a mock style event as well as hear from a large array of guest speakers from the professional world.

“Basically, we learn how to plan an event, how to put it on and basically how to execute everything. Then he [Smith] splits us up into groups, and within that group you sign up for what type of event you want to do,” said senior and student in the class Duabntxoo Skit Ya.  “Your team is based on what event you want to plan.”

The class not only teaches students about event planning, but also about what it’s like working in the real world.

“Every week, he [Smith] has different professionals from different companies come and speak to us, and they give talks about what they do, and they give us motivation to do what we want to do,” said junior in the class Tecoy Porter.

Porter and Skit Ya are part of a six-member team that is planning their mock event based on a charitable organization; they chose the food pantry in the chapel at Cal Lutheran.

“For our group, we looked at charitable events or organizations happening in Thousand Oaks, and one of my team members brought up the food pantry in campus ministry, and all of us didn’t even know it existed or didn’t know anything about it, so we went with it,” Skit Ya said.

Though the students in the class don’t actually put on the events they plan, they go through the entire process of planning the event, advertising for the event and connecting with a real business or organization for which the event will take place.

“We wanted to make an awareness event because not a lot of people know we have a food pantry or know what other people are going through,” said class member Grace Liao.  “I think our whole group thought it would be a neat idea to do a mock event to make it known that if anyone ever needs something, that they can get it from the food pantry.”

While going through the process of planning their event, students in the event planning class also learn about joining the workforce after college.

“What really made me want to take this class was the exposure I would get with business professionals,” Skit Ya said.  “These are CEOs that come into class and give us advice, like Ken Phillips, who’s the president of the Valley Economic Alliance, and he came to talk to us.”

Students in Smith’s class also credit the guest speakers that come into class for giving them motivation to better plan their events and to have a better sense of what they want to do in the real world.

“The marketing director from the Four Seasons came and talked to us and basically told us not to be worried about not knowing what you want to do after college,” Porter said.  “They gave us a lot of tips and advice in pursuing what you want to do.”

Though the class only takes place once a week, Porter, Liao and Skit Ya said they feel that the connections with business professionals will be one of the most beneficial takeaways.

“This class to me is just completely filled with opportunities, and just the knowledge of event planning—being able to plan an event—is knowledge I’ll take with me for life,” Skit Ya said.  “I wouldn’t have gotten the connections I have now with business professionals had I not taken this class.”

Alexa Barnes