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ASU event pro shares Fall Welcome 2014 details

man holding flag leads crowd of students in march
August 07, 2014

Arizona State University is known for its size. With four unique campus locations and some 70,000-plus students, the importance of establishing a community, and the opportunities to do so, are great. In fact, between athletics, student groups and the various colleges and departments, ASU hosts thousands of special events in a single year.

For Evan Schaefer, whose job it is to organize several of those events, each one is an opportunity to engage students and to help build that ever-important sense of community.

As the senior event coordinator with student programming at ASU, Schaefer isn’t just good at his job; he’s committed to it, and it shows. He was recently named one of the 25 Young Event Pros to watch by Special Events Magazine.

“I am intrigued by the events field and continually find myself exploring new ways of producing events,” Schaefer told the magazine. “You are more likely to find me reading ‘Risk Management for Meetings and Events’ by Julia Rutherford Silvers than a John Grisham novel.”

ASU News caught up with Schaefer to get a better understanding of a day in the life of an event planner. Read on for his answers – and to catch some details about the upcoming Fall Welcome 2014 activities.

Q: How long have you been an event professional?

A: I have been doing events since I was 17, whether it was DJing at dances or producing 5K runs, I have been around the special event industry for about 10 years.

Q: What attracted you to the profession, and why did you choose to come to ASU?

A: I became an event professional because as I was producing events, I realized that my passion and drive to take them to the next level never went away with time; it only got stronger the more I worked at it.

What brought me to ASU was the diverse setup of the multiple campuses, the size of the institution and the opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: It would have to be working with the students. I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of great students come through the Programming and Activities Board (PAB) office. I have been grateful for their participation because I know they have taught me as much as I have taught them. The most fulfilling part of my job is being able to watch a student-driven event, from conception to execution, where they need little support from me. I believe that is when the true learning begins.

Q: What has been your favorite event so far?

A: My favorite and most challenging event to work so far has been Devilpalooza. Devipalooza is a music and carnival festival comprised of local and national bands, full midway rides and food trucks. Beginning in 2013, I had worked with a team to begin a rotation of Devilpalooza being hosted on the West, Polytechnic and Tempe campuses.

It was great to work at the other campus locations and integrate into their culture to really see what types of programs they enjoy. While working on-site, the ability to interact, not only with students, but administrators at every level has been a tremendous opportunity. I’ve found that those at the highest levels of the university are often the most generous with their time, resources and advice, which is hugely important when planning large-scale events.

Q: Why should people care about and/or participate in special events?

A: Special events are important because, in our current structure, they provide a plethora of opportunities for ASU students. For those students that produce them, it teaches discipline, professionalism, time management and other transferable skills. For those students that attend, hopefully it opens their eyes to something they have never seen or experienced before.

College is about taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. It's important that students reach out and participate in special events; regardless of whether they want to attend or volunteer, they will be learning something new about themselves.

Q: How did you react when you were found out you had been named one of the 25 Young Event Pros to watch by Special Events Magazine?

A: Thrilled! Overjoyed! I was so incredibly honored to have been nominated and selected. I have some amazing campus partners and colleagues who have always been supportive of me, and who truly value my opinion. I know there are many talented young event professionals in all areas of the event industry, so it was especially exciting not only to be recognized, but to know that Arizona State was highlighted as well.

It means a great deal to me because somehow, and in some way, I have had an impact on someone that they felt was valuable enough to want to nominate me. Having confidence is one thing, but being valued by your colleagues and students is something that means more to me than anyone will ever know.

Q: What can ASU students expect during this year’s Fall Welcome?

A: A week full of great events sponsored by a lot of different groups. We are always very excited about welcoming the incoming class to ASU. There are so many events happening on all four campuses, I wouldn't even know where to start. All of the awesome Fall Welcome events can be found by visiting:

Specifically, I can speak to the Fall Welcome Concert on Tuesday, Aug. 19, featuring Mac Miller with special guest Caked Up, which will ignite the inside of Wells Fargo Arena right after the Sun Devil Welcome. You definitely don’t want to miss out!

Q: What makes the ASU Fall Welcome activities unique?

A: Our activities are unique because we center them around the student experience and really help them get connected within the first few days of school; everything from listening to music on the Sun Devil Fitness Complex Fields to Passport to ASU, which is our student organizational fair.

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in the special event industry?

A: Getting into the special event industry takes time. Don't expect to produce your first outdoor festival within the first few days of being hired (or graduating). Take your time and really embrace all of the opportunities you are given. There will come a moment when you begin asking yourself, "What am I really learning?" Then, when you move on to your next event, or even your next event, you are going to be thankful for even the smallest opportunities that existed for you to grow and develop.

To read Shaefer's profile in Special Events Magazine, click here.