In February 2012, two national surveys came out, ranking meeting and event planning to be the 6th most stressful job and 16th best job, respectively.
On February 15, my colleague, Laura Wilson, commented on a surprising CareerCast study that pronounced "Event Coordinators Have the 6th Most Stressful Job in America." Later that month, on February 27, US News & World Report announced that, according to its rankings, meeting and event planning is the 16th best career of 2012. (In fact, the magazine called meeting and event planning the number-one best job in the business category.)
So, is it the best of times, or is it the worst of times? Or is it both?
According to a straw poll of meeting planners, feeling stress and loving your job are not mutually exclusive.
Wayne Wallgren, who has been operating WorldWide Incentives, Inc. in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for more than a decade, says, "I think the answer is yes to both, up to a point. I've had just as much stress in other industries and enjoyed what I was doing at the time a lot less. In spite of any downside to the business, I always say that what I do beats working for a living. My point being: I really enjoy it." Linda Elland, president at Florida-based A2Z Meetings & Events, admits, "Yes, there are deadlines and details that create excitement, but most of what we do is put the pieces together and sprinkle magic to make it memorable." (Elland was recently named Meeting Planner of the Year by Meeting Professionals International - Tampa Bay Chapter.)
An industry professional for 20 years, Juanita Gaynor, who is an Atlanta-based wedding planner and Examiner.com reporter on the subject, says that planning is a great job "if you like flexibility, being creative and helping make a client's wishes a reality, but it is stressful just like any other career. You have your days where you want to pull your hair out and go and hide; but usually this happens as your event nears and anything is possible." Gaynor notes that, in her experience, planning weddings is the most stressful, more than planning corporate meetings, conferences and trade shows.
In her experience, Chicago-based association meetings professional Anne Carey says, "Association planners have to answer to the board of directors and an executive director" and "they often feel they don't have enough money in their budget." But while these situations generate a certain level of stress, she believes that once-in-a-lifetime events (like weddings) or meeting the demands of a wealthy client "would top that, I'm sure."
David T. Stevens, events and strategic solutions manager at streamline events in Emeryville, CA, thinks stress is a relative term. "I think we all know the harder you have to work for something, the more rewarding it is. The harder you work, the bigger the payoff."
Regarding the surveys themselves, Karl Nybergh, CMP, a south Florida-based meeting consultant, comments, "My take on the US World & News Report, was that the career of being meeting and event planner is the best job [when it comes to searching] for work. The article was an info sheet for salaries, growth and education." And: "CareerCast was a career comparative relating to stress and salaries, with no mention of career entry difficulties or challenges." Thus, the stress that planners with decades-long experience face is unlikely to be visited on fledgling planners. However, the excellent prospects for an industry career as forecast by US News & World Report are possible, for, as Alexandra Carvalho, meeting and event manager for the Hospital Council of Northern & Central California, points out, "We work in an industry that is larger than the U.S. auto industry."
Carvalho also admitted that yes, while stress is involved, meeting planning is "the best job in the world."
To find out if you were meant to be a planner, read Donna Kastner's 10 Signs Junior Might Have a Future in Event Planning. To find the tools to be a successful planner, go to Cvent Event Management Software.