Event Planning at the Global Arena Research Institute
By Alice Bodge, Student of Communications, New Media and Journalism Program, Prague, Fall 2019
This fall, I’ve had the pleasure of interning with the Global Arena Research Institute (GARI) in Prague as an Event Coordinator. GARI is responsible for the Next 100 Symposium, a program that hosts intelligent and accomplished speakers, and creates a space to discuss future-oriented ideas - briefly put, it’s an interdisciplinary meeting for world leaders and curious minds alike. At first glance, this was an intimidating concept for me to face. I have plenty of experience event planning at Emory University; from contacting hundreds of Atlanta-based restaurants to helping walk alpacas across campus during Homecoming, I honestly felt like I had seen it all. Yet here I was, helping plan a large-scale symposium where we’d be hosting incredibly accomplished world leaders such as the former CEO of Blackberry, Jim Balsillie, or European Parliament member Martina Dlabajova.
On my first day in the office, I entered extremely doubtful of my capabilities despite my experience in the field. While I was excited to learn as much as I could about programming an event of this scale, I was scared to even start. Questions quickly filled my mind, such as: “am I good enough to be here?” or “what if I mess everything up?”. I moved throughout the first month and a half with uncertainty and hesitancy; though I was accomplishing plenty of tasks, I couldn’t help but wonder if event programming was even my “thing” anymore. While my co-workers, boss and office environment are all fantastic and welcoming, I persistently doubted myself.
However, that attitude quickly changed when I walked into work one day and was greeted by my boss, Odessa, who asked me to be the Director of Operations for the Next 100 Symposium. I was absolutely stunned. As a director, I’ll be responsible for running the Symposium under my boss and mentor - the best director knows every single detail about an event and how to run it in the most effective way possible. I was absolutely thrilled, to say the least.
At that moment, I realized that I had been full of nerves and hesitancy for no valid reason. I spent the first half of the fall being so hard on myself that I didn’t even realize how much the progress I had made with GARI - until Odessa offered me the Director of Operations position.
This day completely changed my outlook on my experience and taught me a few lessons about myself. Firstly, I realized I needed to move about the world with much more confidence in myself. While I try to appear confident and truly am eager to start on projects given to me, I would always be struck with an initial wave of fear; thoughts such as “you’re going to do this wrong”, or “this isn’t good enough” are common for me. Yet this day instilled a new wave of confidence in me, as I realized how hard I’ve been working for the last few months. I was so shocked that I had been asked to be the Director of Operations because I had spent every day breaking myself down. This experience taught me to appreciate the good work that I’ve done. From then on, I started to work with much more confidence. I know that I have experience in event planning to be a valuable addition to the team, but I finally started to believe that.
As my outlook on work changed, so did my view of myself. Not only did I fully understand how hard I can be on myself, but also realized how capable I am of doing something big. Learning that my boss and coworkers had faith in me to do an efficient job as Director of Operations gave me valuable insight into myself - I started to acknowledge my skills in communication, organization and understanding what it takes to program an event correctly. As I start to prepare for the Next 100 Symposium coming up in late November, I can’t wait to work with a boost of self-confidence.