Trina Edwards started out working in administration and office management. But after a move to the events sector, she’s a core member of the team behind the biggest international business event in New Zealand tourism, TRENZ. Find out why tourism and events are a perfect combination for Trina.
What qualifications and subjects did you attain at school?
I studied economics, accounting, English, history and calculus. I finished high school before NCEA was introduced, but in the old system I attained a B Bursary (unfortunately I wasn’t suited to calculus and that mark brought down my average!).
Outline your career path once you left school.
As the end of high school approached I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, based on the advice of a great teacher, I applied for and received a full fees scholarship to complete a Bachelor of Business Management. I then worked in administration and office management for a few years before moving to New York and working in financial analysis.
I knew I wanted to retrain so I came back to New Zealand and decided to study Event Management. I enrolled in a 1-year Graduate Diploma in Event Management in Christchurch but transferred to Wellington after the earthquake. I spent my year of study volunteering on various events and making contacts in the events sector. Through volunteering and interning, I built up a network and over the next few years had a variety of events and marketing contracts spanning performing arts, film, social enterprise and charities. Then, in need of a change of scenery, I moved to London on a working holiday visa, and spent 18 months doing short-term events contracts in higher education and charities.
Now, back in Wellington, I have found myself in a permanent job for the first time in many years. The tourism industry feels like the right fit for me, and to be able to continue to manage events in an industry that excites me feels like a win!
What have been the highlights for you?
I have really enjoyed finding opportunities to try different things in different places to work out what I like to do and what I am good at.
What attracted you to the industry and kept you in it?
Events seemed like the right balance between my creative side, my penchant for getting bored quickly, and my obsessive detail orientation. It’s hard work and not at all as glamorous as it seems to be, but it’s a lot of fun. The short-term projects and incredibly varied nature of it keeps me interested and challenged.
What are the challenges for young people?
Too much choice and too much conflicting advice. It often seems you need experience in order to get experience, which can feel like an unwinnable war.
Any advice for a school-leaver?
In general: Good things take time and hard work. Enjoy finding out what you’re good at and what you want to do, and learn how to communicate your transferable skills in your CV.
In events: Volunteer! Being good in events is definitely something that takes practice and there are heaps of opportunities to get involved. You’ll get to try out different areas and skills and meet lots of people. The old adage of ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’ isn’t the only way, but it sure does help.