I LOVE Election Day. I think it’s such a privilege to vote and a chance to shape our future. A future that is looking bright for the exhibition industry after meeting some of the EN 30 under Thirty yesterday. I got my start in events and exhibitions working at The Labour Party, on the annual and regional conferences and exhibitions, and Election Roadshow – I am proud to have worked for them for 10 years. The experience of being involved in the 1997 election is so far the most unique experience of my career, one I suspect will never be repeated, but has formed how I work forever more. Working on back-to-back events from one end of the country to the other. Spending more time in the office than at home, missing my own 18th birthday… sleeping when you could, long long long days… not as long as the party at the Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the 1997 win (quickly followed after three hours sleep by having to prep for my Art A Level!) was the greatest preparation I could have ever had for a life in events. But this isn’t about my political views (lucky for you). It’s about the grounding and start it gave me. I wasn’t lucky enough to have an iniative such as the EN 30 under Thirty, but, like EN managing editor Jamie Wallis, I was lucky enough to have a mentor. Someone who helped steer me through, teach me not just how to be good at my job but how to ensure that everyone else around me works to the same purpose. I couldn’t have asked for a better start in the events industry… I was involved in some major events with high profile people, very tight security and situations you wouldn’t have to deal with in every day events. But I started by putting up trestle tables and cutting table clothes to fit for 100 small table top exhibitors we had. I made tea for all the lads on the floor (as I do still to this day), photocopying and stuffing envelopes I was happy to be working and learning and gaining experience. Without wanting to do the whole clichéd thing, those experiences were invaluable, those opportunities taught me as much if not more than my university education. And I will forever be indebted to my mentor for allowing me these opportunities, and pushing me to do more. Relish the experiences you have and let them help shape your future. Take any opportunity to work on something new, I worked on exhibitions, conferences, festivals, live events, my business partner worked at venues, in house companies and lve arenas before we eventually came back round to exhibitions. But it allowed us to realise what it is we love to do. Take a day out and be a floormanager, a security guard, a traffic officer. Take time to learn what every role contributes for your event. Learn from the ground, you will see your event from a completely different perspective. Don’t ask someone to do something you would not be willing to do your self. Every event, every planning meeting, every venue you work in should teach you something and help you make better, more informed decisions. As your experiences grow, so do you. You learn just as much from things that go wrong as things that go right! And don’t forget to pay it back. Help some one else gain experience, apart from anything else it helps you realise how much you have done and how far you have come. Guest post by Miriam Sigler, director of Ways & Means Events. Ways & Means are a fully-integrated events operations service… “Where there’s a will, there’s Ways and Means”. Follow Miriam and co on Twitter @Waysmeansevents. What do you think eventprofs? Are you in the EN30/30? How did you start out in the industry? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, or tweet us at @weblogevents.