Six years ago, after a brief hiatus from the corporate workforce, I was ready to get a full-time, outside-the-home job again (mainly because my job as a stay-home mom wasn't working out all that well and I think I was perilously close to being fired). In my job search, I, of course, scanned our local newspaper's classified section. (That plan had proven successful on two previous occasions, so I figured I'd stick with what works.) I saw an ad that said something like this, "Office Manager needed for administration duties. General office skills necessary. Party planning experience preferred."
Well, it just so happens that I have mad general office skills. I can enter data like nobody's business. Microsoft Office is a walk in the park. I'm an excellent proofreader (of someone else's work, that is). Google...let's not even get started on that. I can answer a phone with a smile in my voice and a pleasant "please hold while I get him on the line for you." AND, my Sweet Hubby Ryan and I have FOUR kids...I have planned some fabulous parties. I sent my resume, got the interview (nailed it!) and here I am, six years later, doing work that I LOVE.
As Chief Executive Factotum at The Sparks Agency, I get to go to work every day with people I really like. I have a boss who considers me an intellectual equal (although he is way smarter than I am). I'm part of a creative process that is constantly coming up with new, interesting and fun ideas that translate into memorable events for guests visiting Texas from all over the world. Yes, I do have to utilize those mad general office skills, but I also get to go to all kinds of fun events. I have become a Special Events Professional. But wait, there's more!
In the special events industry, one can become a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP). These four letters behind one's name are very prestigious and honorable. "Being a recipient of the CSEP designation demonstrates a continuous dedication to enhance individual and professional performance. The CSEP designation offers a competitive advantage when soliciting business as either a special events industry supplier or planner. It represents proof of your professional market knowledge."* All it takes is three years actual work experience (got it!) and an exam. Oh yeah...there's a test. It's an essay test, too - the worst kind! Well, there is also a vocabulary section, but vocab is a piece of cake. (It's not very good cake, but it is calorie-free.)
Being the smarty-pants that I am, I decided I MUST have these letters behind my name. (I mean, all the cool kids have them, and I definitely want to be one of the cool kids.) Not only will I be able to have the honor and prestige of being introduced as MaryEllen Miller, CSEP, I'll get to go to the private, exclusive CSEP events at ISES events and conferences. It's like a not-so-secret club. Oooh! Oh yeah, as an added bonus, I will gain a lifetime of knowledge that can only enhance my abilities as an employee, an event planner and a human being.
All that leads to this...I have taken the plunge! Thanks to a scholarship from TxACOM (a fabulous events industry organization), I applied to take the exam. So I got to work. I joined a great group of colleagues from across the industry for a discussion group. I worked tirelessly to complete the outline that will make up the exam. (OK, not tirelessly, I was WIPED OUT when I finished that sucker!) I studied the vocabulary words. I got registered at the testing facility. (Yeah, I have to go to a testing facility - this is big time, I'm telling ya.)
Our Discussion Group: Leigh, Maggie, ME, Jayna & Kay
On Thursday, July 18, at 10:30am, I will begin the certification process. When I walk out of there four-and-a-half hours later, I plan to only await the confirmation that I passed. Three separate CSEP raters will evaluate my answers and will let me know if I pass or fail (I mean, will let me know that I passed). I have studied hard and I have a great support system. I'm feeling pretty good about this.
So, my friends, I'm accepting any and all prayers, well wishes, good lucks and other good vibes you can send my way. I'm certainly happy to reciprocate when and if you ever need prayers from me.
Much love and many blessings to you!
*direct quote from the CSEP website home page
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