This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Jenna Sopko, DES, manager of Business Meetings and Events at the National Association of REALTORS, shares the best advice she was ever given, and offers her own advice to those interested in pursuing a career in the industry.
What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?
My best advice is to remember that no job is too small, and you must start somewhere. Every task you tackle will give you a fuller picture of how an event is run and a respect for everyone on your event team. The team staying up all night to set your room deserves just as much respect as your keynote speaker. Kindness and hard work will help you succeed in anything you pursue.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is that it is okay to take a breath. It is very easy to fire off emails throughout the day to clear your inbox or to quickly make decisions so they are off your plate. Taking a few hours to sit on a decision and slowing down your mind will help you think through your response, so you know you are giving the best response for the situation.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
Resiliency has really shone through in the last few years — in the industry, with coworkers, and in my own life. With each bump in the road, we have learned and grown.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
While the planner in me would love to have a plan, I hope that in five years I am doing something beyond my wildest predictions. The past few years have taught me that the best thing we can be is flexible in the pursuit of our goals.
Where do you look for new ideas and inspiration?
There are so many places I like to look for inspiration. I love to follow event and meeting professionals online as well as bloggers and wedding accounts to see new ideas and how we can mold them to fit into our meetings. I also think that some of the best ideas come when I am talking with colleagues. A good, old-fashioned brainstorm can snowball creative and innovative ideas.