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Paid internships necessary in the events industry says Athena MD


As Athena’s internship programme reaches its 10th anniversary, Sandeep Singh, managing director of the landmark Leicester venue, and two interns talk about the industry’s skills shortage and how paid internships are a necessity.


Sandeep Singh

In the competitive landscape of the events industry, nurturing talent has become a top priority for organisations looking to stay ahead. The pandemic also created a major skills shortage with so many leaving the industry for jobs in other sectors. It has never been more important for the industry to solve these issues – and the key lies with paid internships.

We launched Athena’s internship scheme in 2013. We currently work closely with Leeds Beckett University and have been in conversations with other universities across the UK.

Paid internships supply the next generation of professionals

Over the past decade we have witnessed first-hand how internships can be a powerful tool in developing the next generation of event professionals. Internships are a crucial bridge between academic learning and real-world application, which is why our programme gives interns meaningful responsibilities and provides hands-on experience, rather than just administrative tasks allowing them to work alongside experienced professionals on live events. This approach not only ensures that interns gain practical skills but also exposes them to the intricacies of event planning and execution.

The mentorship aspect of an internship programme is very important. We have always made sure that interns are paired with seasoned event managers who guide them and can share insights gained from years of experience, while providing constructive feedback. This mentorship not only accelerates the learning curve for interns but also instils a sense of confidence as they experience the challenges and rewards of event management.

We also place a strong emphasis on cultivating a collaborative and inclusive work environment, so interns are encouraged to actively contribute their ideas and perspectives to help deliver their creativity. This not only benefits the interns by honing their problem-solving skills but also allows for the contribution of fresh and diverse ideas into the organisation.

Internships are essential for our industry’s future to ensure the next generation of event professionals are well-equipped to meet the evolving demands of the field.

What the interns say…

Rebecca Walton, former Athena intern, now working at Ashfield Event Experiences

“I chose Athena because of its iconic standing in Leicester. I wanted somewhere close to home, with the capability of providing me with experience in different event sectors. Athena really was the perfect match. From Comic Cons to award dinners, concerts to conferences; Athena host it all.

“Everyone on the team had such varied experiences and backgrounds, who could share their knowledge and expertise, which was extremely valuable. I learnt skills from several departments from catering to AV, marketing to venue management, and understand how each team has to work together to deliver a successful event.”

“Hira Ram, who is Head of Events, has been with the company for 18 years and her wealth of experience made her the perfect mentor. I was incredibly lucky to learn and work alongside her.”

“I oversaw a conference for Travelsphere for 150 delegates and I handled it from enquiry to event delivery. It was a fantastic learning experience and a massive confidence boost that allowed me to put the skills I had learnt into practice.”

“The events industry is not for the weak at heart as there can be some incredibly long shifts, and stressful situations with demanding clients, but the job is incredibly rewarding at the same time.”

“The internship allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of event logistics, customer service and problem solving, time management, event planning and execution, and I have been able to apply this knowledge to my subsequent roles. Events rarely go exactly to plan and this experience allowed me to stay calm under pressure and make quick, effective decisions – a valuable skill when working in events.

“Hira has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and I know she is genuinely invested in ensuring anyone who joins the team is able to learn and develop whilst also having fun and enjoying the journey!”

Christothea Vassiliou, current intern at Athena

“Athena appealed to me because it has a great reputation for hosting different kinds of events. The staff at Athena have provided me with hands-on experience in event planning, allowing me to work on various aspects of event coordination, which has not only boosted my confidence, but added an achievement to my portfolio, proving that I could handle complex events and excel in the event management industry.”

“Internships will train me for future opportunities to develop my career even further as it benefits not just your professional growth but also your ability to determine if this particular field is a good fit for you.”

Athena is the leading events venue in the Midlands and PA Life is pleased to visit the venue without Club members in December.