Katharine Gausmann is the Program Manager – Principal Events at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Being a young professional herself, she has a unique insight into how it pays off to get involved! She’s worked in this industry professionally for three years, but was first introduced to it through the PCMA student chapter at the University of South Carolina.
“As a Freshman, I got involved and never turned back. It was something that really interested me.” Her degree is in Hospitality Management with a concentration in meetings and events and club management. However, her hands-on experience was gained through multiple summer internships. Internships included a country club where Katharine oversaw all operations for events; a catering company where she staffed others events; and a hotel where she learned hotel operations.
As any professional will tell you, it takes time to find something that’s a great fit for exactly what you want to do. Katharine is in her second professional job, where she finds herself carrying more responsibility and enjoying it. “I’m responsible for managing and overseeing all the Principal Programs.” This includes everything from reviewing applications, organizing the logistics and facilitating advocacy on the Hill. Planning a meeting successfully involves a lot of pieces (and people), which requires a lot of coordination between departments (inside and outside the company).
In fact, one of Katharine’s favorite aspects of her new job is the program element and it being more than just event logistics. “You can be creative. Especially, as the new person, I feel there’s some flexibility to be creative and different.” It’s always a confidence booster to be able to offer ideas and feel that you’re being listened too. “If you have an open minded group you can contribute to the success!”
That being said, budget constraints rank near the bottom of the list of “likes”, which I think most of us can agree with. “There are always limitations. You can’t have everything for everything.” There are constraints in the budget overall as well as what you’re allowed to allocate to what, depending on your organizations rules. Just remember: Budgets can limit creativity in some ways, but could enhance it in other ways!
We’ve all been there, the hotel who provides below acceptable service when it comes to servicing your meeting. Katharine recalls one of her biggest challenges being when she had no CSM on-site. The BEOs were not complete before she arrived and the CSM interim replacement was on medical leave throughout the meeting. “Needless to say, it was a frustrating circumstance.” However, situations beyond your control are bound to arise. It’s up to you to remain calm and get the job done.
As PCMA’s Capital Chapter’s Rising Star for 2015, Katharine has definitely reaped the benefits of being active in PCMA from a student to a professional.
“It’s given me the resources and experiences I need. The experience supplements the 9 to 5 job as well, by offering opportunities to engage in aspects you may not be able to at work.”
Katharine leaves us with this: “You have to create opportunities yourself, they are not just going to come to you. You have to network and speak up in meetings. You have to be your own advocate!” And finally, “Maintain a work life balance, don’t take your work home. Establish that from the beginning!”