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A career that suits my character

by Stuart Gibb-Cumming

Jessica Kirkbride was working full-time in finance when she decided a career change was in order. Hoping to put her people skills to good use, Jess is now studying for a career in events management while she continues working.

Employed full-time in finance but with her eyes on a career in events management, Jessica Kirkbride found Open Colleges offered the key to her future.

Few people have the financial resources to quit one job and train for another. This was the case for Jessica. However, Open Colleges gave her the opportunity to study in her own time while still earning a living at her current employment. Now studying a Diploma of Events Management, her plan is to finish the course in around 6 months then possibly relocate to Sydney where she feels there are more opportunities than in the Gold Coast where she currently lives.

“Without the flexibility offered by Open Colleges I don’t know how I’d be able to accomplish the career change.”


With the growth of event management in recent years, it is an industry requiring more and more people with the relevant skill sets. Events management covers a lot of ground. An events manager can be expected to look after site surveying, budget drafting, cashflow management, scheduling and technical design as well as health and safety, environmental, ecological and risk management. There’s plenty to keep life interesting and that seems to be exactly what Jessica is looking for.

“I like the surprise each day offers in events management. It’s never boring.”


What with perfect weather almost every day and winter being so mild, living on the Gold Coast offers plenty of distractions from study. However Jessica’s ambition seems to be keeping everything under control. Her study plan takes her other commitments into account.

If Jessica needs back up with her course and has questions she can contact her trainer or use OpenSpace to post questions to the forums to see if other students can provide the answers. This custom created portal is similar in design to other social media platforms so it’s easy to use straightaway.

“Recognising a potential employer’s problem provided the solution.”

As well as working her present job, Jessica has gained a work placement to notch up the necessary hours of experience in the events industry. She admits she found it a little difficult to get a placement at first so adapted her approach to potential employers – informing them that it was unpaid work and that she had the relevant insurance cover.

“Fitting in work placement with my full time job took a bit of juggling but it has worked out fine.”

“I do a half day permanently at Metricon Stadium for the O’Brien Catering Group and then make up the hours with my current employer. I’m getting up earlier these days and working later but I’m really enjoying it. I’m meeting heaps of new people including higher management. It’s really quite interesting. I’m loving it.”

“Sorting out the work placement and reorganising my current working hours was all part of dealing with different situations. It’s good practice for my future career.”

Jessica admits it was a toss up between veterinary work and events management. “I did a bit of volunteering work for an animal shelter every Friday morning. I decided on events because I just couldn’t deal with seeing animals in pain every day. Event management makes me happy. So in the end it was a simple choice between being happy or being sad.”


Asked if she would recommend the events industry to others Jessica gives a conditional yes. “But if you want to work 9 to 5 and leave on the dot, it’s not the career for you.”

“I think you have to like dealing with different people and providing good customer service. Yes, you definitely have to be a people person.”

Jessica’s outgoing personality, her ability to adapt to different situations and willingness work to any hours of the day and night make her ideal for an industry that manages everything from weddings to product launches and major month-long festivals.

Are you a people person?

A career in events could be for you. Explore what it takes to forge a successful career in events management and get the skills to reach your career goals with Open Colleges.

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