If you were one of the more than seven million viewers of this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, you were watching the culmination of pre-planning and support by hundreds of workers and professionals, including Cal State Fullerton’s own Sara Hashemzadeh ’18 (entertainment and hospitality management), who serves as event coordinator for North Hollywood-based Russell Harris Event Group.
In a little more than a year since joining the firm, Hashemzadeh has put support for major televised events such as the Emmys and Teen Choice Awards, as well as corporate functions, under her belt as she embarks on a career in event planning.
Hashemzadeh gave us an inside look at her job, where she sees herself going forward and her advice for her fellow Titans.
What do you do as event coordinator at Russell Harris Event Group?
In my first year, right after graduating college, I’ve had the privilege of working on a vast number of large-scale events, such as the Teen Choice Awards, The Emmys, The LA Screenings, The Passage Premiere, and multiple Fortune 500 corporate events. There are a variety of responsibilities that I hold as an event coordinator at Russell Harris Event Group. In the pre-production phase, I am focused on creating intriguing proposals, designing layouts, sourcing items, attaining pricing, inspecting venues, conducting research, and tracking costs and profit margins.
During the event, we make sure our timeline is going as scheduled and that client expectations have been exceeded. In post-production, I am focused on closing out the accounts payable and making sure to forward all the photos and materials taken from the events to our marketing team. In spare time, assisting the marketing team is always a treat.
What is a day in the life like in your role while you’re putting on an event?
There are a multitude of steps needed when executing a large-scale special event. My day-to-day tasks drastically change depending on where I am with the project. On some days, I will be on multiple site visits, scouting a venue for a pre-Emmy party, and another day, I could be on my office computer designing the entire look or layout of an event. On lucky days, we have networking events to go to where we can chat and dine amongst other individuals in the industry.
Most days start with coffee and responding to emails, just like in any other workplace. After a while, I work on current projects that are in the pipeline and check in with my director to see if there are any urgent tasks. After a production meeting in the conference room, I am back to working on my projects, getting lunch with some colleagues and then back to work. Having such an open office atmosphere is really the best perk; throughout the day the production team enjoys bouncing ideas off each other to gain creative insight.
How did your time at Mihaylo College prepare you for your career?
It was with the help of a professor’s recommendation that I was able to land this job. My schooling definitely gave me all the opportunities and resources I needed to be successful. I realized that it was my choice whether I wanted to seize the opportunities that came my way. It was the mix of social clubs, academic clubs, professors, choosing the right concentration and internships that really allowed me to heighten my chances of reaching my goals.
One of the main experiences that aided me a great deal was the Women’s Leadership Program that had just started at Mihaylo College when I attended. The program taught me to be confident in the way I lead and to refine the way I communicate. It brought up many current workplace situations and problems that we would soon face in our careers. I learned how to negotiate salary, ace my interview and how to become a better listener.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In 2024, I hope to continue pursuing my passion and the excitement in event coordinating within the special events industry. I will execute my own smaller projects as well and begin to invest some of my time in the film industry. Keeping myself busy and productive in the field that excites me is what will make me truly satisfied at the end of the day.
What advice would you give a current college student who may not know what career they want to pursue after college? What should they do to help make a decision?
Seek out what you truly enjoy. The best way to find out what you like is by reflecting on your college experience. Seek out social or academic clubs that you would enjoy and bounce off that. Once you have landed on an industry, get an internship or job that can give you some insight on company culture and what other colleagues’ duties are. This will help give you a better idea of what you would enjoy doing and what skill sets you need to strengthen yourself in. Ask questions from any of your family members or friends who are in a position or industry that you want to be in. See if it is a right fit for you. Seek out one of your favorite professors that you bond with well. Ask them their thoughts on your career choices and if there is anything they can do to help. My final piece of advice, after being in the workplace for about a year, is to take the time to reflect on yourself and follow what you feel will leave you happy and fulfilled.
For More on Entertainment and Hospitality Management
For more on Mihaylo College’s entertainment and hospitality management academic program, please see the program description in the current catalog.
For more on the Center for Entertainment and Hospitality Management and opportunities in the field, visit them online or at SGMH 5357A. Or read more of our articles on entertainment and hospitality management.