When our executive team at the Milwaukee School of Engineering starts planning for an event, we always have two goals. We want our events to be fun and provide value. IIE events can give students the best of both worlds. To make sure we have both parts of this, the MSOE team addresses two main issues: how to get people to the event and how to add value. Although these two goals can sometimes clash, the best events come when both are obtained in harmony.
The first problem our team faces when planning an event is how to get people to show up! This can be as easy as offering free food or as difficult as getting a major company in the area to send a representative. The easiest way to accomplish this is to set a goal: who do you want coming to the event and why do you want them to come? If the who and why don’t match, you can end up with some awkward situations. You may not want 50+ people showing up for a small gathering to explain graduate options, and it would be horrible if you only had 3 people to play a soccer game! Matching the incentive to the scope of your event is key to ensure you have the correct people at your event.
The other biggest issue when organizing an event is adding value to make an event worthwhile. By focusing on developing a scope and a goal early on in the process, you make it easier to define what success is and how to get there. I’m sure everyone has been to that meeting at work or at school where nobody really knew why they were there and nothing significant got accomplished. To avoid this, plan your event so that you and your members both know what the takeaway will be. When you are going on a plant tour, make sure the unique nature of the facilities is showed off. When you are hosting a networking dinner, make sure to tell members that this is an opportunity to get to know industry professionals. Even when you are just hosting a “Stress RelIIEver,” ensure that members know that you are there to have a good time. By making expectations known, everyone can work towards the same goal.
After our event, the MSOE executive team reflects on what went well and what didn’t work. The importance of feedback cannot be overstated; it is the underlying theme of continuous improvement. Through trial and error, we have learned that when you schedule your meetings is important, that professors can help convince even freshmen to come to meetings, and that free food is the best food!