The Friendly Face You See First – Casuals at Southcoast Conferences

Southcoast Conferences has for years employed students from the University of Brighton in casual roles to help out at events, paying a competitive rate and training the students to gain essential skills in event management. The role is super flexible, allowing the students to fit paid work around their studies. The students assist with welcoming and registration of delegates, signposting, queries and everything else that might pop up during the event, being carefully trained to handle any situation that might occur and always representing the University of Brighton in the most professional and friendly way possible. They also occasionally help with administrative tasks and preparation for the events in the office.

Recently, Southcoast Conferences hired and trained a big group of new students to prepare for the busy spring and summer period, and some of them worked their first conference just after Christmas break: “I thoroughly enjoyed working my first event with Southcoast Conferences. I enjoyed the extra responsibility and admired the professionalism of the rest of the team. I also found that many of the delegates were extremely friendly, so it was also great to meet academics from all over the world, which led to some quite inspiring conversations!”

Talking to one of the other students employed by Southcoast Conferences makes it clear why this arrangement is extremely beneficial for the students: “I’ve worked for Southcoast for about 2.5 years now and I still love every moment of it. It feels like every time I come into work I learn something new and I really feel these skills are transferable and will help me be more employable when I finish my degree this summer. And Laura and the team are always super conscious of whatever the casuals can offer – I’ve gotten to use my writing-skills from my studies to help out with the marketing materials for the different events and I get to write content for the website as well. One of the other guys acts as a photographer at most events, so they are great at utilizing the different skills the students have to offer. So I’m not only working an exciting job and making money while at university, I also get to build up my portfolio in my field of study at the same time, which is amazing.”

The students gain plenty of professional experience and skills from working for Southcoast Conferences but this arrangement is just as beneficial for the full-time staff members, as Event Manager Laura Williams makes clear: “Being an events team within a university put us in the unique position of being able to use the incredible talent of our students and offer a real unique selling point to clients whether they be internal or external to the university. Clients love that our event staff are students and always comment on how professional they are which I completely agree with of course!,” Laura explains, “It’s a really lovely cyclical relationship – while it’s great for the students with the professional experience they receive, it’s also incredibly beneficial for us to work with students from different areas in the university because they bring different skill sets and perspectives. When we first meet the students at recruitment or training events, first in mind is always thinking about them as event staff, however, I really enjoy discussing their course and interests and career aspirations to see how we can work with them on a deeper level and offer them different opportunities aligned with their interests or course. For example one of our students has a real eye for graphic design and he helped us redevelop our website. We also have a PhD student working for us who has been able to offer support in the academic programming of conferences which are in line with his research area. More personally though, working with the students is one of my favourite parts of my job because its great meeting them at the start of their journey and watching them develop through their university life and being able to help them and hopefully enhance their experience of university.” 

From working with Southcoast Conferences the students learn about taking responsibility and working independently, being professional, friendly, and working in a team – and we are more than happy and proud to provide them with this experience.