Mission of Love Charities (MOLC), the nonprofit organization in Prince George’s County, Maryland, has long had a priority to provide basic needs of food and housing assistance to homeless and near homeless individuals and families. Over the last few years, the nonprofit has added job training to the services provided to the people who come to its doors seeking help. Helping people get back on their feet economically is a solution that gives people a chance to overcome the circumstances that led to their homelessness.
Included in the workforce development and job training programs offered by MOLC are an OSHA certification course, an English as a Second Language class, a Certified Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Nursing Assistant Class and a Meetings Planning Boot Camp, among others. The courses help prepare participants for a new career path by building skills and knowledge for a new line of work. Most students who complete the coursework are hired immediately.
Ingrid Raboteau is a Certified Meetings Planner who teaches the Meetings Planning Boot Camp, which is held in the Spring and the Fall. With her experience that spans 30 years in the industry, Raboteau has been teaching the class for two years now and finds her work has a big impact. She is teaching the class because she thinks it’s important to provide mentorship to those who want it.
“I want to give back everything I can before I retire,” says Raboteau. “Meetings planning is a high stress job. When I started, I didn’t have anyone who wanted to share or help me along. Now, I want to make sure that these students have the tools they need to be successful.”
The Meetings Planning Boot Camp class covers a lot of territory. It is not an events planning class. Instead, the class shows individuals about planning conferences and large meetings at hotels for businesses and organizations. Raboteau says, “We cover the beginning phases of how to plan a meeting. We begin with goals and planning for a meeting all the way to the logistics.” She has students plan for a two-day meeting and gives them a budget to work with. This includes hotel rooms, food and beverages, transportation and more. The Meetings Planner is basically the go-to person for everything to do with the meeting.
Students learn that hotels have a minimum for food and beverages. They learn how to use a specific budget that may cover many fees, including a service charge and taxes that can be as much as 28 percent additional. Raboteau often brings in a specialist from the hotel industry as a guest speaker for the class so they can get a feel for how food and beverages work in planning a meeting.
Customer service is a large part of the job, so it is also emphasized. Setting goals for the meeting in conjunction with key stakeholders is critical to the success of the meeting. Students learn to work with budget proposals in selecting appropriate sites for the meeting. Determining the right space is important. Finding a property that is suited to the budget is an important priority.
After site selection, designating room sets at the hotel or other venues is an important component to planning the meeting as well as providing for the audio and visual needs for the group presentations. Students review and learn about contracts and contract conditions and clauses, which can be complex. A guest speaker helps to teach best practices for the whole process.
Logistics and other details are discussed for housing, transportation, shipping, exhibits, sponsorships, on-site registration and more. Students are taught that every single detail of the meeting is planned ahead of time, sometimes as much as a year or more in advance.
One student in Raboteau’s very first class, Chica, is studying to become a Certified Meetings Planner. Chica has been in touch with Raboteau, and Raboteau is committed to helping any student who is serious about learning. “I keep in contact with those that are really interested in the class and have a desire to pursue a career in Meetings Planning,” says Raboteau.
Much of the class is taught remotely or not-in-person. Raboteau has found this a challenge. “I try to keep the students engaged by inviting guest speakers from a variety of related professions,” says Raboteau. “These guest speakers make all the difference in the class as they bring their special expertise in a given area.”
The Meetings Planning Boot Camp will again be taught this fall at Mission of Love Charities. It will meet twice a week for one hour. Those interested can sign up in August and September by visiting the event page on the Mission of Love Charities website – www.molcinc.org.
June 7, 2023
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