For Ashley Snyder, a 2015 UNI graduate, there’s nothing quite like seeing an event come to life.
Lucky for her, Snyder came to the right place, as the Gallagher Bluedorn hosts several hundred events each year – giving her experiences that shaped her future.
Snyder started as an event management assistant and house manager, working with Event Management Director, Chris Kremer, and University Conference Coordinator, Kelli McCarthy. She scheduled usher teams, prepared dressing rooms, helped with event set up and tear down, and also served as the house manager for events.
“Looking back, I’m so thankful for my experiences,” Snyder said. “You really do learn best on the job. But making decisions on your own... that’s where the experience really made the difference for me. All the people at the Gallagher Bluedorn are friendly and supportive.”
“Our students learn in a real, high-stake environment,” said Chris Kremer. “But, of course, our students are supported, and they know the staff are always there to help them.”
Real-world, industry-centric work is the cornerstone of the Gallagher Bluedorn student employment program.
For Snyder, she said she felt a sense of community working at the Gallagher Bluedorn.
“One of my favorite things was making friends with people I worked with, becoming a close team, and the camaraderie,” she said. “There, I felt a different kind of energy that I hadn’t felt before.”
Snyder recalled one of her favorite memories when Adam DeVine, a comedian and actor, did a stand-up comedy show at the Gallagher Bluedorn. She helped with a meet and greet, and after it was over, she and a few students had the opportunity to chat with him. Although the students are unable to ask to take photos, Adam wasn’t shy. He took her phone, and took lots of pictures of him and the students. He was a nice and fun person, and Snyder said she will never forget that day.
When she got to stand in the sound booth at the back of the Great Hall and watch a performance, she reveled in the moment.
“I couldn’t believe that this is my job,” Snyder said. “I just wanted to find a job where I would feel that same way after I graduated.”
Snyder feels she acquired the tactical knowledge and general work skills needed for her future work as a student at the Gallagher Bluedorn; she got to practice management and communication skills, and learn how to communicate with people who had different skill sets and communication styles. Snyder believes her work experience at the Gallagher Bluedorn qualified her for her first job.
After graduation, she moved to San Antonio, Texas, to work at the Majestic Theatre. She then moved back to central Iowa and worked as an administrative assistant for an IT firm for a year. Since August of 2017, Ashley has been at the Iowa State University Memorial Union serving as the event manager. She oversees the event management office, which handles reservations and events for 25 spaces, and supervises a team of two event coordinators and six to eight students. They have around 14,000 individual reservations each year.
“I love it,” she said. “Every day is different. It’s fast paced and high energy. I knew that I wanted to be on a college campus again. I love seeing all the events come to life.”
Written by Margaret Empie