Bamboozling the key holder at the Toolleen Football Club was a sure sign Catherine Dreis was on the right career path. It was her sister Lil’s 21st birthday party and the marketing and event management student had taken the reins. She had a spread sheet, a schedule and a barrage of questions for the footy clubroom caretaker. To answer her he simply said ‘I don’t know, I just give you the keys’.
“It’s just my personality,” Catherine says. “I love being organised and I love spread sheets.”
It’s just as well, because Catherine is currently in the thick of one of the city’s most multi-faceted events. The much-loved Bendigo Easter Festival. We drag her across the road from the City of Greater Bendigo Major Events office to the old Green Bean Café for a morning cuppa and chat about setting and meeting her career goals, perfectly to plan.
Catherine landed a job on the major events team six weeks before completing her Bachelor of Business (Event Management/Marketing) last year. Three years earlier this was the exact job in her sights.
In 2011, Catherine moved back to her home city of Bendigo with her young family, having spent several years by the beach in Brisbane, where she worked in administration and office management.
“I came back and very quickly realised that being in my 30s, rather than my 20s, made it more difficult to get a job,” she says. “While I was skilled, and confident in my skills, I didn’t have a formal qualification, so I decided to go to uni. I thought I’d have to travel to Melbourne to do this course but I came to the Bendigo open day in 2013 and met lecturer Paul Willard, who told me the course was now held in Bendigo and once I found that out my decision was done.”
In her first year of study Catherine volunteered with the City of Greater Bendigo for the Easter Festival. The following year she helped coordinate the Easter entertainment in the park for her work placement subject, and was last year invited back to do the same job as a paid casual.
All up, she estimates putting in over 200 hours unpaid work with the team. “I have no doubt I wouldn’t have got this job if I hadn’t have done that,” she says. “I’m on a nine-month maternity leave position. I’ve learnt so much in the short time I’ve been here, and I’ve done so much. I’ve gotten a lot more experience than I would have in any other role and I think that’s because I already knew and had worked with the team.”
Catherine’s job started with coordinating Bendigo’s Christmas festivities, including the lighting of the Christmas tree and the Community Christmas lunch. Now, she’s working with media and festival sponsors to coordinate the marketing of the Easter Festival. It’s an event close to her heart.
“Every year we came to the festival as kids,” she says. “Our position for the Gala Parade was on the fence in front of the law courts. It was very uncomfortable but we got a good view. Those memories are one of the reasons I love the festival. It’s been an amazing experience to see it from the other side.”
Once Catherine’s contact is up in June she’s planning a sea change with her family, and hoping the experience she’s gained in Bendigo will help her get a great job in Melbourne or Geelong. “When I first told people I was studying event management they all responded with ‘so, you’re going to plan weddings?’ This role gets into everything. Almost all companies have an events coordinator now. I’m excited to see where it leads me.”
Click here for information on the many events during the Bendigo Easter Festival, or check out the festival Facebook page.