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IUPUI program perfectly positioned to prepare students for job that tops national magazine's best business jobs list


October 8, 2012

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A program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis finds itself perfectly positioned to prepare students for the profession that tops U.S. News & World Report's list of “Best Business Jobs of 2012."  

The magazine ranks meeting, convention and event planner as the best business job, based on strong job satisfaction and projected job growth. The number of jobs in the field is expected to jump 43.7 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the magazine.

Two factors give IUPUI a significant tactical advantage when it comes to preparing students for a career in event planning, said Jay Gladden, dean of the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. Those factors are people and location.

“Our faculty contains a number of experts in meeting and event planning,” Gladden said. “One of these faculty members, Dr. Amanda Cecil, was recently recognized by two industry organizations -- Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association -- for her outstanding contributions.”

The school's location in the heart of Indianapolis, a stone’s throw from businesses, state government, hotels and a major convention center, is priceless, Gladden said.

Cecil says it’s not surprising that meeting and event planner has remained a good job, even during a recession. “Even in a down economy, corporations and associations still have a commitment to events because they are important tools for things such as branding, educating members, client entertainment and sales training.”

Nonetheless, organizations want a planner who can think strategically, Cecil said. “They want someone very strategic to come in and take a look at what makes sense from an educational, financial and business perspective. They realize that people with a college degree in event management and planning are the ones that can do that.”

Cecil also touts the importance of IUPUI's location to the strength of the meeting and event planning program. “I can offer experiences that you can’t get at other traditional campuses in Indiana. I have facilities within walking distance such as the J.W. Marriott and to the Indianapolis Convention Center that hosts hands-on learning experiences for our students.”

Katie Riggs, who graduated from IUPUI in 2004 with a degree in meeting and event planning, said the location of the campus helped shape her career in the field. She now works for Raybourn Group International, an association management company headquartered in Indianapolis.

She said she and her classmates got to see floor plans for the planned renovation of the Indianapolis Convention Center and hear a presentation from an individual who was explaining to city officials about what it would take to launch the new convention center that would to make Indianapolis a major convention city.

“I was able to witness the planning for expanded convention space,” Riggs said. “That really influenced my career and really helped me get out there and network to open job opportunities.”