Written by Annina Taimio.
Greetings from Macao, the world’s largest casino city! My name is Annina but please call me Anni. Since July 2016 I have had the pleasure to be an assistant board member of the MPI Finland board as the Director of Student Relations. I study Tourism in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and I’m specialising in Event Planning and Management. I am a third-year student and since mid-August I’ve been doing my exchange studies in Macao, China. I will return to Finland just before Christmas and hopefully graduate in December 2017.
WHY DID I JOIN MPI?
A year ago our event management teacher in Haaga-Helia told us about MPI and the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend European Meetings and Events Conference EMEC in Copenhagen, one of the two annual conferences organised by MPI. She told me how MPI is a great community and could help me on my path to become an event professional. I joined MPI in December 2015 and applied for the scholarship. To my great joy I received the scholarship to attend EMEC along with three of my classmates. The scholarship covered the conference fee and my university helped me cover some of the travelling and accommodation costs. As a student you are always on a tight budget, so it would’ve been impossible for me to attend EMEC without the scholarship and the support from my university.
At EMEC I realised I was definitely on the right path with my career dreams and the world of meetings and events is the world where I belong. The MPI community took my breath away!""At EMEC I realised I was definitely on the right path with my career dreams and the world of meetings and events is the world where I belong. The MPI community took my breath away!
EMEC AND FUTURE LEADERS FORUM
EMEC 2016 was held in Copenhagen in the beginning of February. My expectations were high and I was extremely excited to attend my first event industry conference. At that time I had only been studying event management for one semester, since we start our specialisation studies during our second year of studies. I was very nervous because I knew that most people attending the conference were obviously industry professionals, whereas I was “just a student”, an expression I later learned not to use. I started my conference by attending the Future Leaders Forum, which was a half-day event for students attending the conference. FLF is jointly run by MPI, IMEX and MCI and it typically takes place as part of a larger meeting industry conference or trade show in at least 12 locations around the world every year. FLF is packed with educational sessions where the students are introduced to the world of meetings and events. In the forum inspiring industry professionals share their knowledge and the students get to network and make valuable connections with each other as well as the industry professionals. We got excellent advice about how to make the most out of the conference and a lot of tips on how to network. I immediately became friends with some of my fellow students and still keep in touch with them.
EMEC was a life-changing experience for me, and I’m not exaggerating. The Danes truly did a good job with organising an amazing conference! I was amazed with the warm and welcoming atmosphere, I immediately felt at home with the attendees. I had never been surrounded by people who were so easy to approach, friendly, warm and easy to talk with. We Finns tend to be shy and reserved but I have never been the typical Finn. At EMEC I realised I have finally found my people! I had dinner with the Finnish professionals attending the conference and they welcomed me into their group with open arms. I truly made valuable connections and learned so much about the industry in just a few days. My problem was, how to choose which educational sessions to attend since as a student, everything was new to me. I wanted to attend all the sessions! At EMEC I realised I was definitely on the right path with my career dreams and the world of meetings and events is the world where I belong. The MPI community took my breath away!
I have been a MPI student member for almost a year and what a year it
At EMEC I learned about World Education Congress, which is the other annual conference organised by MPI. This year it was organised in Atlantic City in the beginning of June. I was introduced to the opportunity to apply for a MPI Foundation scholarship to attend the conference, which would cover all costs including the conference fee, transportation, accommodation and meals. Obviously I applied for the scholarship, the opportunity to attend WEC sounded amazing. And I got the scholarship! So in June I packed my bags and travelled to US for the first time in my life, accompanied by my classmate who had also received the scholarship. WEC was huge compared to EMEC and organised in one of the big casino hotels in Atlantic City. Again the atmosphere was extremely warm and I was happy to be reunited with an American friend I made at the FLF in Copenhagen. The content of the conference was more focused on the event industry in US but it was very interesting to see how things differ between US and Europe. Again, I started my conference by attending the Future Leaders Forum. I met mainly students from US and learned many useful and interesting things. One of our speakers told us a lesson I will never forget. Never introduce yourself as “just a student” but rather call yourself “a professional in training”. She made us students realise how we should never belittle ourselves. We are the future professionals and we are the future of the event industry. WEC was an incredible experience and again I learned so much!
MPI Finland Chapter
After my amazing experiences in EMEC and WEC I wanted to get involved with MPI in Finland. I’ve been active in the student union of my university and the student association of my campus. Promoting the students’ interests has been very close to my heart. MPI does important work in promoting the interests of the event industry and getting active in MPI felt like a natural step to me. The Finland Chapter was looking for new board members and I expressed my interest. To my great delight, I was chosen to be the new Director of Student relations as an assistant member of the board. I am an assistant member since I will be out of the country the whole autumn. Once I’ll be back in Finland, I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with other students and encouraging them to join MPI. I want to help promote the event industry in Finland and as Paula mentioned in her blogpost, one of the founding pillars of MPI is to be the “voice of the industry”. Last but not least, networking in the MPI community helped me gain a work placement in an event management company and I’m very excited to start my work placement in January.
I have been a MPI student member for almost a year and what a year it has been! MPI helped me realise I want to work in the event industry and got me truly excited about my future career. I have travelled to Copenhagen and US, made new friends, learned so much in the two conferences I attended, found a work placement and made connections that will help me with my future career. And first and foremost, I have found my people, my community.