We’re all about education at LVL Academy—and, as far as we’re concerned, there’s no better opportunity for an aspiring planner to get an inside look at the real day-to-day responsibilities of a wedding planner than through an internship. As a mentor on the other side of that relationship, it’s important you create a representative and productive experience for your intern and their host company—and we suggest doing so through a balance of educational opportunities, shadowing and support tasks. Below, we’ve broken down tips and tricks for ensuring you have a balance of all three. Read on...and start making room on your desk for that World’s Best Mentor mug.
Educational opportunities are key in any internship (obviously!), but especially so for aspiring wedding planners who will one day have to take on an endless array of roles—from CEO to branding expert to designer—as a professional planner in the future. Hands-on experiences are such an effective way for your intern to learn the ropes of wedding planning, but, as a planner with real-life clients, it can be tricky to know exactly which tasks you can hand off to an intern and which they’re not ready for yet. We recommend the following:
Table Top Design Challenge: Let your intern mock-up a tablescape for an upcoming wedding. There’s no harm, no foul if you don’t end up loving what she creates...yet you’re still giving her the opportunity to gain real-life design experience. It’s a serious win-win.
Design Board Practice: This is another great way to let your intern dip her or his toes in the world of wedding design—and it’s oftentimes a task interns love tackling.
Listening in on Sales Calls: As any wedding planner knows, a good portion of the job is sales and marketing. We love the idea of letting your intern listen in on sales calls and consultations.
Creating Social Media Content: As long as your intern has a solid idea of your brand aesthetic and voice, why not let her take over the ‘Gram for a week or two? It’s a great task to get off of your own plate, without being as high-stakes or overwhelming as, say, having her redesign your website.
There’s really no quicker way to get a genuine look at the ins-and-outs of being a wedding planner than through shadowing opportunities—they allow your intern to see the good, bad and not-so-glamorous aspects of this crazy-wild (but endlessly fun) career.
Wedding day: Shadowing you on a wedding day will give your intern a look at everything from vendor and timeline management to set-up and tear-down. Keep in mind to let them know your expectations on attire, cell phone usage and how hands on they will actually be.
Venue Walk-Throughs: Let your intern come along the next time you’re walking through a venue (with or without a client, depending on your level of comfort with the intern and client). This will give her an idea of what to look for in venues, what questions to ask and what logistical elements to consider when it comes to different properties and settings.
Floral Mock-Ups: Let your intern shadow you when you have a floral mock-up with the client. This can be a great time for them to sit in and take notes on how to effectively run a design / mock up meeting.
Rehearsals: As an aspiring wedding planner, your intern will one day have to run many-a ceremony rehearsal. Let her come along to get a feel for how these run and what a wedding planner’s role in a rehearsal should be.
Handing your intern support tasks is a great way to check items off of that neverending to-do list of yours, while ensuring you’re providing your intern with plenty of worthwhile assignments to fill her or his time.
Organization and formatting of guest lists: Whatever project management or spreadsheet tool you’re using, put your intern’s organizational skills to the task by allowing her to format and organize guest lists.
Researching vendors: Specialty dessert options, transportation or online resources are often great starting points! Put your intern to the task gathering and organizing research on each.
Creating Timeline Drafts: Timelines can be one of the trickiest parts of ensuring a seamless soirée—letting your intern dive right in on creating timeline drafts is a great way to give her a behind-the-curtain peek at what it takes to keep a multifaceted event on task.
Mailing Invitations: Let your intern run some day-to-day errands—like mailing invitations—for you. It’s not the most exciting task in the world, but it’s part of the gig! Be sure to explain the mailing process - like what IS hand canceling?
Welcome-Gift Assembly: Assembly is always part of the job—it’s a great no-fuss and no-experience-needed task to hand off to eager interns. It is such a fun way for interns to contribute as well as see what planners do to enhance the guest experience.
Keep in mind, capitalizing on your intern’s strengths while helping her improve her weaknesses and explore areas of curiosity is what makes for a great internship (and mentoring) experience. To get started on the right track with your intern, we recommend the following:
Ask what she or he wants to learn: People will put in the most work in the areas they’re most passionate about. Find out which aspects of wedding planning your intern is most curious about and make an effort to give her special experience and one-off tasks in that arena.
Set expectations from the get-go: From the hours she should be in the office to attire, be sure to give your intern a clear idea of what to expect and how to get the most out of the experience from the very beginning of your relationship.
Take time to pause—explain every chance you can: It’s easy to forget what the entire picture looks like when you’re inside of the frame. Remember to step back and explain things—even things that may seem obvious to you—whenever you can. Whether it’s clearly defining industry jargon or explaining why you created the timeline that way, every little bit of information helps!
Schedule shadowing of meetings, calls and events: Try to schedule out shadowing opportunities from the get-go, so both you and your intern know what your schedule together looks like in the upcoming weeks and months.
Overall, internships can be as fulfilling (and helpful!) for the mentor as they are for the intern. It’s all about creating a solid mix of educational opportunities, hands-on experience and support tasks to ensure your intern walks away better prepared to enter the world of wedding planning and you walk away with, at the very least, a slimmed-down to-do list and refreshed outlook on the industry!