My Internship Experience At Think Mahogany Events By Debra-Jane.
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Topic: My Internship Experience At
Think Mahogany Events By Debra-Jane.
Good Morning Esther, Chara, and Chantel. Esther can you please….Chantel can you please….Chara can you please…. Immediately I saw this I knew my day at Think Mahogany had started. Well at least I knew my tasks for the day before I got to the office. A typical day at the office began at 8:30am. Reading my emails was mandatory as I had to know what’s happening in each client’s event account. I must say this was a good policy as it kept everyone on the same page.
After reading my emails, I would start the day’s work which usually involved working on clients’ accounts, coordination forms, and making payments on behalf of clients.
Due to the nature of the job, I had to brace myself for any task as there were no fixed duties assigned to each person. However, as I stated earlier, there were basic duties I had to perform daily. Aside those basic ones, anything could come up.
During an event week, pressure amounted from all angles not only from Debbie (The brain behind Think Mahogany Ltd aka Debra-Jane), but from clients, vendors, and even me. Yes I said “me” and I will explain to you later.
There were basically three levels of pressure. The levels depended on the service being rendered to the client: Coordination, Styling, and Planning. In my case, I had the privilege of experiencing the highest level of pressure on three different occasions. Fortunately for me, all the events that happened during my internship involved planning, coordinating, and styling. I bet you are wondering why I used “fortunately” right? Well my aim for doing this internship was to have a real event planning experience and I had the whole package in one month. Ain’t I lucky?
One event that stood out for me was Kofi & Ama’s wedding (these are not the actual names of the clients). Moving on…Whew! The pressure is already mounting as I write. Where do I even begin from? Let me start from the coordination forms. A coordination form is a document that contains the entire details of the event. Examples are vendor details, client’s special requests such as type of music for each activity etc. Filling Kofi & Ama’s coordination form was a bit frustrating especially with the music choice. There was constant changing of songs which made it difficult. I was even put on the spot to choose a song for Ama but being an informed and up-to- date woman, it was a piece of cake. (Allow me blow my own horn a bit. Lol!). I would like to say that the pressure from filling the coordination form lies within the fact that I dared not make a mistake! Having an eye for detail did not even help here. Chale! I had to read through about 10 times. You can imagine what would have happened if I had made a mistake with the couple’s first dance.
Enough about the coordination forms. Now to the major pressure *drumroll* Capo!!! (Not the actual name). Disclaimer: This type of pressure may differ from person to person however, I can bet that 9 out of 10 would experience the same level of pressure as I did. Capo is a go-to person when it comes to rentals. Lest I forget, she’s a nice and principled person but the shouting!!! Oh Lawd!!!! Her workers frustrate her so much that she screams on top of her voice from a two story building and it’s audible to someone standing outside the gate. That’s about 103 decibels slightly higher than Maria Sharapova’s loud tennis grunts. Making orders at Capo’s could take about 2 hours inclusive of insults and screams. I remember the first time I met Capo she was very nice but I had a headache after we finished with the orders. I can’t blame her too much because I noticed that her workers don’t appreciate her toil and sweat. That’s what most entrepreneurs on this side of the world go through everyday so Capo don’t worry you are not alone.
Fast forward, coordination forms, rentals, delivery. Now to the D-day; during events, work started as early as 6am and ended as late as 2am. Although it was stressful, I enjoyed the feeling of managing someone’s “ones in a lifetime” event. Hold your horses for “one’s in a lifetime” that’s another topic for another day. Where was I?? Errm Kofi & Ama’s wedding. Setting up was a bit easier than I had expected however the most stressful part was the coordination. Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting new people and having great conversations with them. However, if you choose to look down on me just because you have a fixed mindset of assuming that every “usher” (as most people decide to call an event coordinator) is uneducated, that’s where we will have a problem. Whew! That was a lot of words in one sentence! Anyway, I can promise you that the most difficult part of this internship was when I had to bounce uninvited guests and ensure that they behaved during the entire event. This shouldn’t be a major task but it becomes a mess and sometimes nasty when the guest is not on the same page as you. Especially when the guest is not used to classy events which Think Mahogany prides itself in.
When everything at the event goes as planned and guests are satisfied and comfortable, the dancing begins. This is where you would see each Mahogany staff exhibiting a move or two at the beat of their favorite tunes. During this time Debbie doesn’t spare anyone with her dance moves. Lol! After the dancing, comes the other tiring part- clearing up! Clearing up after an event took an extra 4 hours (subject to change depending on the number of guests). When clearing up, I had to ensure that each item returned back to Debbie’s house. NB: Do not leave any torn flower or even a single pearl on the floor. However, the best part was when Clement would shout “The truck is in” that’s when I knew that the day had come to an end.
The most interesting thing during my internship was during consultations with clients. Meeting different couples such as the “PDA duo”, and the “how did they meet?” duo was very fascinating .The love that emitted from each couple made me want to “fall in love” however, reality always sets in right? That brings me to my question: Is the level of PDA the same after the glitz and glamour? Well….
Thinking through my entire internship, I’m a bit shocked that I didn’t have any boring and “I want to quit moment”. Each day had something interesting to look forward to which made me enjoy my time at Think Mahogany. I must say I have learnt a lot from Debbie and the entire Think Mahogany team. Aside the obvious things I learnt such as floral arrangements, filling coordination forms etc, I also learnt the organized and perfectionist nature of Debbie. How she keeps track of everything and everyone around her is amazing. From her various trackers which includes clients’ birthdays, anniversaries, referrals etc are what I think makes her stand out from other event planners.
Oh I forgot to mention Nicki! Ok so Nicki is the apple of Debbie’s eye and the brain behind the nice Instagram photos you admire on the Think Mahogany page. Nicki is something else! Chale! Nicki never goes off, she’s well clad in a bag, but you will mostly find her out of her bag hanging tightly on her lover’s neck. I wish I had learnt more from Nicki and her lovers’ spectacular photo editing skills. PS: Think Mahogany Ltd has a subsidiary known as Nicki Photography and by the way Nicki is a camera lol!
Enough of the long talk. I would like to end by sharing my developed perspective of the Event Design and Management industry. This industry is not for the faint-hearted neither is it for the overly pampered beauty queen. In this industry you have to be ready to get dirty, be tolerant, selfless, and firm. With all these ingredients mixed together, with a dose of prayer and innovation, you will be 100 feet closer to what Think Mahogany stands for although I am positive that no one can be like Debra-Jane. To the next intern, make sure you enjoy yourself and don’t forget to know Nicki better than I did.
PS: I didn’t explicitly explain to you how the pressure amounted from myself right? Don’t worry, after reading the entire write up you will notice the anxiety associated with the job. Read it again.
Chantel Bekoe, 21.
Ashesi University College (Business Administration Major).
Internship Period: May to June 2016.
In the summer of 2014, I interned at Think Mahogany Events, after communicating with (discreetly stalking) Debra-Jane (DJ) for a while about my interest in working with her. After my resume was reviewed and approved, I received the news I had been granted the internship.
From the very first day, everyone welcomed me and made me feel like a true member of the team and right away, I was expected to make contributions and fully participate in the day’s activities. A typical day at the office included a brief morning meeting with DJ’s personal assistant, checking and responding to emails (this also happens throughout the day regardless), client meetings with DJ either at the office or at a prospective venue, lunch, (food is important!) and then heading back to the office for more planning and contacting of possible vendors for an event.
A day at an event was a little different. We would report to the site or venue of the event early in morning, usually around 6am. Time, and the value of being prompt was highly stressed because it was important to begin set up at the venue in due time for the event. After reporting in, there would be another brief meeting with DJ and her assistant who would then outline the plan for the day after which, we would all begin to set up. During and after set up for an event, there are pictures taken and videos recorded to update the company’s social media pages and then, there’s lunch (because food is still very important). We would always have a resource table, or a little booth set up for staff to sit while the event is in progress, to answer any questions clients and future clients may have, and also to provide our contact details. At the end of every event, we tear down and head back to our respective homes.
The hardest part of this experience for me was the trip I had to make to and from work. The office and my house are on opposite ends of Accra so, commuting was that much harder but, not impossible. It just meant having to wake up a little earlier on my part, especially on event days. The internship was overall a fulfilling and interesting experience. There were no dull or boring moments to it. If I was working in the office, I was most likely in a planning or consulting meeting or following up on the company’s social media pages. On the other hand, I absolutely enjoyed working on events, because it was like mixing business with pleasure in the best possible way. Most of the events we planned and coordinated during my time. There were traditional and white weddings, even though Think Mahogany offers a range of services, so, there was never a boring moment because I LOVE weddings even if I am unfamiliar with the parties involved in it.
The most interesting part of my internship was experiencing event days and all its craziness from set-up to tear down and everything in between. It is a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Well… maybe not blood or tears but definitely sweat at some point. This is because, there is a lot of passion and dedication put into the work we do, and combining that with the rays of the Ghanaian sun, there’s bound to be some sweat up in there! Also, I LOVE (did I mention that before?) weddings hence, getting to be a part of multiple weddings made me come to work with happiness in my heart knowing that I’d be helping to bring forth somebody’s “happy ever after.”
My internship experience taught me more than I could have imagined. One does not simply become an event planner because it seems glamorous (even though DJ is as glamorous as glamour gets). It takes a certain kind of effort, passion, hard work and sacrifice (let’s not forget PRAYER) to be successful in this field of work. Some people think that event planning, styling and coordination is made up of, in the words of a friend, “arranging tables and chairs.” Even though that is a very important aspect of the job, it takes much more than that or there wouldn’t be a whole industry worth over 4 billion dollars (IBISWorld, 2015) dedicated to it. Another important thing that this experience taught me is the power of using social media in a positive way. Without social media, I would not have learnt about DJ and Think Mahogany to even begin my stalking…I mean my reading and getting to know all about their work and communicating with her to get this internship opportunity. Even while I was there, I saw how social media played a key role in putting the company out there for people around the world to witness the mastery in the work we do. Also, each month, DJ would either teach us (Think Mahogany‘s social media followers/supporters) either about a new city and some aspects of their culture, a flower or even a colour and its meaning. This demonstrated that the social media pages were not just about showing our work but also to interact with our supporters. Networking is also very big in this industry and something I sharpened while interning at Think Mahogany. I was able to meet lots of people from various backgrounds and this helped shaped my perspective of society in a different way especially since we are socialized to believe and act and think in certain ways. Networking I learnt is also a major key *inserts DJ Khaled gold key emoji here* in growing a client base. If there is one thing I would love to get more experience in, it would be the financial side of the business. How services are priced and how the monetary aspect of the business is handled.
Overall, I gained a very valuable experience from interning at Think Mahogany and I am grateful to DJ for giving me this great opportunity. The internship allowed me to get to know myself in terms of my dreams and aspirations, my potential, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It helped me sharpen my creative and forward-thinking skills in every aspect of my life (See what I did there?)
**For those who don’t know, Think Mahogany’s motto is: “A creative, forward-thinking company.”
Akosua Thompson, 21.
The College of Wooster ‘17.
Dept. of Anthropology and Sociology.
Internship Period: May to August 2014.
For someone with genuine interest in events and ambitions of being the next big thing in the industry I have been doing my homework pretty well, thus an internship with one of the major key players in the industry at the moment was imperative. The thing about Think Mahogany Events by Debra-Jane is that it is not your average, eight to five conventional job where you have to follow a laid out routine, but each day brings with itself a new task to be accomplished.
A regular day however comprised reading of emails so as to be abreast with whatever is going on with clients’ events and updating events information as and when the need be. This was interspersed with giving responses to clients’ enquiries via call, Whatsapp, SMS or email. Not forgetting the social media updates of the company’s subsidiaries.
On certain days where there were no events, there were meetings with clients. These meetings which were on appointment basis afforded clients the opportunity to have fruitful tête-à-tête with the Managing Director as well as the Think Mahogany Team who will be working on their project. The nature of the meeting depends on the service(s) that the client is opting for, as the company offers planning, styling/décor as well as coordination services. For clients that signed up for décor services, there were site surveys at the selected venues.
Most of the events that were held during the seven weeks of my internship were weddings and engagements. And one thing that caught my attention is that men, i.e. the grooms were not as involved with the whole process as the women. They either did not show up at meetings or even if they did, they allowed their ladies to be in charge. Could it be that they were preoccupied with making money at the beck and call of their fiancées or they simply did not want to bear the blame if any choice of vendor faltered on the day of the event? I leave that to you to answer 🙂
During my tenure of internship, I had the chance to experience all three services on offer. I realised that in totality, the entire planning process depends on how much the client is ready to splurge because ones budget determines the grandiosity of their event. This same budget ascertains the fanciness of the décor at the event coupled with the tastes and preferences of the client. Coordination on the other hand has to do with the D-day: ensuring the event runs smoothly. The whole coordination process can be summarised by the phrase “Your Wish Is My Command”. All the client has to do is to give accurate details of the event to personnel in charge and watch the event unfold perfectly before their eyes.
On event days especially ones that involved décor, work started as early as 6:30a.m. On such occasions I worked tirelessly together with team members to ensure that the dreams of the client were realised. And when Think Mahogany was contracted to coordinate those same events that we decorated, I had a double dose of weariness. However the smiles of satisfaction plastered on the faces of clients and guests alike, and the feelings of happiness they expressed was my ultimate reward at the end of the day. After all what is the use of breaking your back only to be greeted with utter disappointment and dissatisfaction!
Talking of moments, I cannot distinctly point out any as interesting, boring or annoying. Let’s say I knew what I was bargaining for when I decided to walk down the Events Design and Management Lane. Only difference was that I was no more on the Kids Party Terrain that I was acquainted to. It was a different ball game altogether. I digress.
On one occasion I had to handle an impatient mother in-law. So for some unknown but definitely pardonable reason, the groom was running late for the ceremony. The bride was ready but the groom was not. She was laid back and unperturbed though. Unfortunately, her mum was not having it at all! Uncommon, isn’t it? Guests were arriving at the church and since both the bride and groom were on the same floor in the same hotel, and both mother and daughter were strong believers in the superstition that it is bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding ceremony it was in my place to get the groom out of the premises as quickly as possible.
I paid my third visit to the groom’s room to persuade him to make his way to the church, accompanied by a second threat from Mum in-law. In her exact words: “Tell him I will walk there myself and sack him to the church”. Upon entering, I realised he was having a meltdown. I am highly positive that he was already overwhelmed by the upcoming activities lined up for the day. With no intention to do so, he let out his frustrations from the pressure on me. Uh-oh! This was not looking good at all. I perfectly understood him at that moment so I did not hold it against him. Expertly, I gave him some time and space but did not return to mother in-law to avoid further “wahala”. Later in the day Groom showed remorse over his actions towards me even though I did not show a hint of resentment. I even have a selfie to show for it 🙂
This internship was an eye-opener I must say. I am optimistic that I have learnt many of the things I will need to start and run a successful events business and I have taken particular note of all the things I do not want in mine. Such as, focus more on task delegation to all staff. I earnestly look forward to that day. In between time, my developed perspective on the Events Design and Management industry is that it is one that is definitely here to stay. However it will only flourish if executives invested greatly in their human resource by recruiting the right people, with the right backgrounds, qualifications and abilities. Let us face facts; a business owner cannot do everything on their own. They will need dedicated and hardworking staff to put up a show but this will not happen if they do not invest properly in them such as offering incentives to boost their performance. Whoever said garbage in, garbage out did not mince words at all. Your team’s output is highly dependent on your input into their training and management. Another thing is that executives need to get off their high thrones and be involved in all activities. That’s one thing I liked about Debra-Jane. As much as she had a team of staff, she was hands-on herself. This sprinkled with a reasonable amount of creativity, hard work, innovation and prayer is the recipe to success.
Dzidzor Ami Senanu, 21.
University of Ghana, BA Economics (Major).
Internship Period: June to August 2016.
Honestly I don’t believe anyone in this world loves weddings as much as I do. They always get me emotional, make me tear up. But most of all what I love is to help a bride plan her wedding and help her out all day. So I advised myself, if you love to do something why not better yourself, because it’s been said that choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Working with Think Mahogany is a dream come through for any upcoming event organizer. Therefore I was over the moon.
A typical day at Think Mahogany office for me begins with sweeping, dusting and setting up of the office. Then set up the laptops and iPad; thus making sure they are connected to office Wi-Fi, so I update the various Instagram pages with their various captions per information and graphics provided by Managing Director (MD), Debra-Jane Nelson.
After doing the above mentioned duties, I proceed to check my emails for the day. From then I pick up official phone and see what book of tasks the MD, Debra-Jane, assigned to me for the day. My schedule usually differs depending on what day, and the days with the most tasks are Tuesdays and Fridays.
Lunch breaks are usually from 13:00 to 13:30. The days’ activities ends mostly by 16:00, the day ends only when the day’s duties have been accomplished.
Coordination meeting are the longest where every single detail of the event is planned and well laid out. I enjoy every single brain storming moment during coordination meetings.
Reporting time for events varies based on the time and the duties (styling, coordinating and planning) of the event.
Styling Events: I report to the venue as early as 7:00am when we are styling to help in the setup, to make the day an exceptional and memorable one for the client.
Coordination: On event days when we are not styling I enter into a home and introduce myself as “AMA from THINK MAHOGANY”. (That is the line that officially kicks start work). As soon as I say that it means work has officially began. I need to make sure all vendors who are meant to be there make it and on time, they include; MUA (Make-Up Artist), photographer and videographer and at times the bouquet vendor. While I deal with the vendors I make sure all the bridesmaids are ready and on time. That is challenging, especially when it’s a large bridal team (and as Ghanaians have made it a custom to be fashionably late to their wedding). However, I finally get them all to the church auditorium as early as possible one way or another. The sight of a happy bride walking down the aisle makes me forget all the struggles from hours before (making sure she is dressed on time without pressure from her parents).
The Reception: (Deep breathe…) the most frustrating part of the day. Just when I think of the wedding reception I think bitter sweet. Because it in our hands to make sure the couple sail through without a worry in the world. Dealing with relatives who believe they have the right to sit where deem fit them neglecting all protocol. Confirming and timely alerting the DJ have and play the right song at the right time. Getting all vendors especially the caterer to be present, set and well aware of the specific duties as prescribed and assigned before the event. Once the team performs their duties with little or no error / glitches, the MC moves for the closing prayer. Then all is left in the hands of the DJ to giving the couple and honored invitees a great party. Filling their minds with songs that would forever leave memories of the event.
- Every single day in THINK MAHOGANY is like a spending time in the ant world where all team members are assigned specific task to perform within a time frame.
- I start my week the following task;
- Check and responding to mails.
- Updating all assigned Instagram accounts
- Calling of vendor before and during an event. Updating them and requesting for updates and progress reports from every vendor responsible for a task that would lead to a successful program.
- Requesting for clarification and better particulars from couples to aid fill their coordination forms.
- Taking minutes and notes during coordination.
- Attending to clients calls.
- Checking and responding to emails and phone calls.
What I found most interesting during the internship were coordination meeting when I got to meet the couples and help them plan their best days. Another thing was calling vendors, this till now I don’t understand why but just excited me. My all-time favorite was seeing best Mahogany Couple R&M have their first dance.
The most loved feeling is how much trust and exposure Debra-Jane Nelson gave to Me. Entrusting me an intern with coordination of a wedding with little supervision. For that am so much grateful for the room to operate and to complete all task.
Maame Ama Pokua Asare, 23.
Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration
Internship Period: August to September 2016
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