‘Give Yourself a Full Plate of Work’

Author: David McMillin       

Jenny Abreu, CMP, MTA
Owner, Forever Etched Events, LLC

My First Industry Job

During my first semester at the George Washington University School of Business, I joined a listserv for event management majors. I found an internship opportunity for the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law and decided that I had to start my career somewhere while looking for a job related to events. Although it was an unpaid internship, I treated it as if it were paid and it paid off (no pun intended!) when I was offered an official job at the ABA as a program and services coordinator.

My Previous Three Jobs

I have been a director of awards and recognition programs, a director of conferences and education programs, and a manager of meetings for associations in the Washington, D.C., area.

What I Do Now

I am currently following my purpose and passion and serve as the founder and chief experience officer of Forever Etched Events, a boutique firm that provides meeting and event experience design, planning, management, and production services. Our services are offered nationwide and/or where required by our clients and their needs and we especially pride ourselves on being the only bilingual (English & Spanish) meeting and event planning firm that will specifically cater to and offer services to faith-based organizations. I am also an adjunct faculty/instructor at Howard Community College, in the Center for Hospitality and Culinary Studies, where I am able to influence and mold students into the best meeting and event professionals.

My Favorite Thing About My Job

I get to create unique event experiences for my clients that are customized to them and the objectives they seek to meet, and I also get to work with amazing vendors who provide services that allow me to do what I do. I also love that my work is never the same. Day after day and week after week, I get to do something different with each client.

Most Influenced in My Career By

The biggest influence in my career has been my alternate approach to looking at what I do. I don’t view work as another meeting or event with people, a venue, F&B, registration, materials, speakers, and a website. Instead, I approach what I do as a true experience of the senses.

What I Learned From My Biggest Professional Mistake

I have no regrets because God allowed everything that was meant for me to happen the way it was supposed to. That said, I wish I would have explored my love for this industry earlier in my career, i.e., when I was younger!

My Next Big Career Goal

To become a professor of hospitality while still being able to create and execute amazing event experiences for my clients. I have no desire to become a big firm with lots of employees or clients or focus on making millions. However, I do have a desire to change the way clients think of event experience and how they impact a business, organization, group of people, an individual, and the world in the most organic, customized, and personal way.

I’d like to build on my legacy, which is to ensure that at least one college or university in all 50/51 states offers education or programing on meeting and events specifically like the one that I graduated from in 2009. I want there to be an educational opportunity anywhere for anyone passionate about this industry.

My Advice for Young Meeting Professionals

Immerse yourself in this industry. Take advantage of networking opportunities and opportunities to volunteer in your city or town on events. This will help you not only figure out what makes you love this industry so much, but it will also help you expand your portfolio of skills in events and help you grow professionally.

Be good to everyone. Whether they are the housekeeper or at the executive level, it’s key to recognize everyone’s importance in shaping a successful event. Move around. Don’t worry about switching jobs in this industry every two or three years. It’s important that you explore different jobs and roles, not only to challenge yourself and make yourself better, but also to help you figure out what role/job makes you feel good and awesome while doing it.

Give yourself a full plate of work. Take on responsibilities that are not in your job description or role, and stay relevant to the industry so that you are a resource.