July 26, 2015

My Hectic But Exciting Experience in the World of Event Planning

By Jolly Shi ’16

May 31st, 2015. It was the day I left home in NYC and set off on a Greyhound bus to Saratoga Springs to experience my 10-week event/wedding planning internship with Christine Wheat Special Events Firm. I had some ideas in my head about what to expect, but experiencing the events industry first-hand was quite different. It was most certainly a challenging experience and definitely one that changed my life.

I still remember the first day I met Ms. Wheat. I walked into her office on Broadway and it was just simply hectic! As you can imagine, the wedding season is busiest in the summer and Ms. Wheat was in the middle of doing a hundred different things. She threw me into the fire and put me right to work. I crawled on my hands and knees, and began to put together 85 welcome bags with 16 items in each for a big client wedding that weekend. This was just the beginning of a crazy but fun-filled summer from gorgeous Lake Placid, through beautiful Cooperstown, to breathtaking Lake George.

gift bags for wedding guests and boxes of supplies in an office building

Over the last 8 weeks, Ms. Wheat became more than my employer. Not only did I work for one of the best wedding/event planners in the country, but I also gained her trust and respect. For me, that’s very important as I’m trying to figure out which direction of event planning I want to pursue and how I should get there. Ms. Wheat went beyond my expectations as she cared about each and every single one of the interns’ growth and development.

Her delegation of tasks had purpose behind it – she would intentionally assign us tasks that would help us identify and work on our strengths as well as weaknesses. She would pull us into her client meetings and projects so we would understand the thought process behind planning an event. I learned so much from Ms. Wheat through observing client and vendor meetings, conducting research projects in the office, having a direct role in ensuring success at weddings, and using my resources to find answers.

A wedding photo collage with a  bride and groom holding each other, bridesmaids, a bride holding her wedding shoes, a wedding ring,  and the wedding venueA groom holds his bride's hand aloft on the lawn outside their wedding reception, where people socialize outdoors

Ms. Wheat is such a caring and thoughtful person. Her clients love her, her team adores her, and I most certainly admire her professionalism, strength, and resilience.

The back of a bride's dress as she enters a church sanctuary, escorted by her father

I have experienced so many new things and truly put myself to the test in this internship. While I experienced multiple personal and professional challenges throughout these weeks, I am proud to say that I have grown and matured into a stronger woman. Ms. Wheat has taught me so much and no words can express the amount of gratitude that I have for her.

a body of water, presumably a lake, with blue skies and white clouds above a wedding ceremony by a dock with water in the background

In addition, I am so thankful to be a recipient of the Robert Beane ’58 Intern Scholar Award. Both the financial and mentor aspects of the award have helped me TREMENDOUSLY throughout my summer internship. Because my internship is unpaid, I was planning on working a part-time job in Saratoga Springs to assist with housing, meal, and travel expenses. Fortunately, I did not have to take on a part-time job because of the financial assistance of the Beane Award. This allowed me to focus entirely on the event planning internship and maximize my learning experiences every day in and out of the office.

My mentor, Cindy Ironson ’91, has been such an AMAZING mentor. She is an enthusiastic, selfless, and intelligent woman for me to look up to. I am so lucky to be her mentee. I find myself and Mrs. Ironson similar in many ways and I aim to grow professionally and personally like her.

a photography takes a photo of a wedding party outside a stone church buildinga wedding ceremony inside a church with a priest officiating

Last but not least, I am extremely grateful for all the time and energy that Career Services has poured into the Internship Stipend programs to ensure that funds are available for as many students as possible. Because of all their hard work, I am able to have a fulfilling internship this summer. I want to especially thank Erin Evans for all her hard work into steering the Internship Stipend program, Melissa Schultz for always being my role model and career counselor, and Nanette Cooley for all her support and kindness in my life. Additionally, I would like to thank my boyfriend and soulmate, Dave Gnopo ’15, for ALWAYS supporting me through adversities, being there for me every day, and putting his faith in me. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life.

If you would like to chat further, please contact me via e-mail:  shij@lafayette.edu.

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6 Comments

  1. Jolly, I am so glad to hear that your internship has been so rewarding! It sounds like you are learning and growing tremendously.

    says Margie Cherry
    July 30, 2015 at 11:19 am
  2. Jolly, Beautiful article. What an inspiration you are to all of us!!! I admire your passion and drive. Looking forward to seeing you again when the “fall semester” starts @ the Skillman Cafe.

    says Margaret Stocker
    August 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm
  3. Jolly…..so happy to know that your summer was so productive and meaningful! Looking forward to seeing you on campus soon and hearing more about all of these valuable experiences!

    says Nanette Cooley
    August 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm
  4. Jolly – All your hard work is paying off. I enjoyed reading about your summer internship. You have an exciting future ahead of you!

    says Greg MacDonald
    August 26, 2015 at 5:59 am
  5. Jolly,
    You are an inspiration to our office, your fellow students, and to ME! I have no doubt you will succeed in whatever field you choose to pursue. Thanks for sharing your summer experience,
    Amy

    says Amy Blythe
    August 26, 2015 at 8:29 am
  6. Wonderful article and summer for you—sounds like a great experience! All the best in all your endeavors, you’ve got creativity and the drive to make them happen.

    says Ester Barias-Wolf
    August 27, 2015 at 8:09 am
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