Written by: Kim Schmahl
Before starting my internship at the ALS Association, I wasn’t really sure of what I would be doing. I got the job through the Columbus Foundation Summer Fellowship Program, where the foundation matched me with ALSA based on my interests, major, and previous experiences. So unlike many other internships, when I applied for the program I wasn’t applying to an internship in a specific field or department, like the marketing or supply chain internships that many of my friends are doing. All I knew before my interview was that the project would be “organizing an educational symposium for providers of services to persons with ALS.”
Now that I’m three weeks into my internship, I’ve figured out what a symposium is and how much work goes into planning one–and it’s a lot more than I ever realized! Basically, a symposium is just a fancy word for a conference and this one will be for around 120 people, including People Living with ALS (PALS) and their caregivers, along with healthcare professionals, like nurses, social workers, and physical therapists. It will be a day full of speakers discussing various issues relating to ALS, vendors who provide services to PALS, and a catered lunch.
Before I started, the staff at ALSA had begun some preliminary planning, but once I got there the entire project was handed off to me. I will be involved with the entire event planning process from coordinating general event logistics to planning the specific content of the conference to marketing the event to both attendees and potential sponsors. So far I’ve kept myself busy communicating with speakers, determining an agenda for the conference, creating the event brochure, and mailing out letters to companies and businesses seeking sponsorships. I’ve visited the McConnell Heart Health Center where the event will be held, met with the marketing coordinator at ALSA to discuss a marketing plan, and even secured my first vendor!
So far I’ve learned a lot about event planning and have gotten a taste of how much work goes into planning an event of this size. I’ll keep you posted on how everything goes!