The CSEP Experience

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  A conversation with Matthew Byrne CSEP

How did it feel when you heard the news?

Elated. Working towards my CSEP was a challenge. It really tested all my knowledge and understanding of the industry and the work we do as event professionals. After taking the exam, the waiting was the hardest part. When the notice popped into my inbox, I half expected it to be bad news. But, when I read the first line, I jumped up from my desk in excitement.

 

How did you study (study group / on line / etc)

I did a lot of studying before the exam. Particularly on the Apex Glossary. I would review a section each day leading up to the exam, paying close attention to any term or item that I wasn’t familiar with.

 

Any tips for those thinking about getting their designation?

Remember that this designation is not about how much you know, but how much you understand about the industry and it’s workings. Trust yourself. As an event professional your event experience is your most important asset.

 

What do your clients and colleagues think?

They see it as an indicator of my experience and professionalism.

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  A conversation with Darlene Smart CMP, CSEP

How did it feel when you heard the news?

Excited!  I had worked very hard throughout my career to establish myself as a educated, dedicated, experienced professional and when I received word that I had  achieved my CSEP designation, not only did I know that I had established myself, but I was one of the elite professionals in my field; a Cut Above!  It gave me a true sense of accomplishment, of being a well-educated Events Professional.  Event Planners strive for perfection, work hard to achieve it, but generally never take the time to look back at what they have accomplished.  When I received word regarding my CSEP designation; well, I sat back in my chair and took a minute to be proud of myself – I made it!

 

How did you study (study group / on line / etc)

The very first thing I did before I started to study was to call up a member of the Toronto Chapter.  I asked her for suggestions on the best way to study for this exam.  When I spoke with her, she gave me confidence to continue, inspiration that I could do this exam.  She gave me clear, concise answers to my questions.  When I got off the phone call, I knew just what to do.

I did not have the opportunity to study within a study group, although I would have enjoyed that.  Instead, I decided to do it alone, on my own time, at my own pace.   I printed off the Course Outline and the glossary of terms.  I memorized the Course outline and ensured I knew the entire outline and was familiar with most of the terms.

I spoke to experts in certain fields to gain insight into how they managed certain aspects (within their field) of the course outline that I wasn’t familiar with.  Once I had a good knowledge of the course outline, I took four different types of events within my industry and applied the course outline to each of those events.

I was now ready to be tested!  I gave the course outline to my husband and asked him to question me…he was tough!  I believe that helped me understand more, from an outsider’s prospective.

 

Any tips for those thinking about getting their designation?

For studying – I broke down the Course Outline into groups of 8 points, memorized each group, then once I knew those 8 points well, I added 8 more points, until I had the entire course Outline memorized.  I read over the glossary and focused on the terms that I wasn’t familiar with.   Each day I wrote the course outline down so I would keep it fresh in my memory.

For the Exam – Read each case study carefully before choosing the one you wish to work on.  Don’t choose a Case Study because you think it will be the easiest – it may not be.  Choose one that will give you quite a bit of information to work with; one you may have experience with.

First thing I did when I started the exam, closed my mind to everything and took a few minutes to write down my memorized course outline.  Then you have it to refer back to when answering the questions to your case study.  Do not get lost or overwhelmed with the case study, or the ticking clock in the top right hand corner.

Be sure to provide all elements they ask for on all questions.  If they ask you for (5) examples, be sure you provide (5) examples, not 3 or 4, but all 5.  The grader will only be able to give you a grade if you have all necessary examples, no partial grades.

DON’T take the Glossary of terms for granted.  Be certain to read the question carefully so you have a full understanding of the term they referring to.

Last tip – DON’T GIVE UP!  I felt like I wanted to leave when I saw a couple of the questions on the exam portion, but I plugged through them and kept going – look at me now!

 

What do your clients and colleagues think?

My colleagues were happy for me.  They knew I was a true professional in our industry, but they were happy to see me get such an elite accreditation.  My internal partners (and Executives) look to me as a strategic and knowledgeable partner on their team.

My clients were truly happy for me.  In fact a couple of them sent me emails asking if I had heard anything yet.  Everyone shared in my excitement!  

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   A conversation with Tara Sweeney CSEP

How did it feel when you heard the news?

Extremely excited and proud.   And also hugely relieved that I passed!

 

How did you study (study group / on line / etc)

I attended two CSEP info sessions that ILEA held which was extremely helpful in terms of where to find info on the exam outline, suggestions for exam preparation, etc. I also did a small group study and studied online.

 

Any tips for those thinking about getting their designation?

I would suggest attending an info session to get some general info about the process, tips for studying, etc.

 

What do your clients and colleagues think?

My colleagues have been very supportive and were happy for me.   I can honestly say that we probably don’t emphasize our designation enough in my workplace. We are looking at having our certificates frames and visible to clients.   But we don’t really advertise our CSEP designation enough.

 

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  A conversation with Dustin Westling CSEP

How did it feel when you heard the news?

I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment, as well as an eagerness to do more. There is extreme value in being CSEP designated and in obtaining it you are promising to add value to the industry yourself.

How did you study (study group / on line / etc)

I partook in a study group with colleagues who were also writing the CSEP exam and we used both the course outline and the glossary of terms as our base study points. We also drew from one another’s knowledge of our respective fields to cover all areas of the event industry from production to catering to AV, etc. I also attended the ILEA CSEP info session that we hold annually for ISES members, which provided a great guideline to launch from.

Any tips for those thinking about getting their designation?

Do all of the above. Understand the course guideline and know the terminology. Attend the CSEP Info session- it’s the most simple step to take. And above all, talk to colleagues, vendors….someone from each spectrum of the industry for a full understanding- set up a study group like we did. Use your industry to better yourself, and in turn, get your CSEP designation and better the industry.

 

What do your clients and colleagues think?

The CSEP designation is designed to elevate industry practices and standards and in obtaining certification you are truly setting professional standards within yourself, your career and your business. You are saying ‘I am professional, I practice only the highest standards and I take this seriously’. And that shows.