Opinions May Vary

I don't really have a whole lot to say that isn't already in this week's episode. Lucky for me Alex wrote this piece on volunteering at conventions and events. Enjoy!

Speaking with Charlie from Sketchprices.com on episode 71 (and the pre-show) reminded me of my own experiences volunteering for a convention. This is an aspect I had completely forgotten about for the simple yet terribly misguided thought that it’s something I don’t plan on doing anymore. (I’ll get to why later on.) Also my work with Zombie Charge encouraged me to finish this as of episode 78.

Charlie was able to choose a shift for each day he volunteered and would choose a morning shift which would allow him the rest of the day to experience the huge event. This seems like a better deal than when I volunteered for Wizard World Philadelphia 20XX, it was at least ten years ago, where I got about an hour mid-day and then some time near closing when I wasn’t needed anymore. In later years I’d go back to Philly to volunteer for Wizkids, the company that makes and runs the Heroclix miniature figures game I used to play. Wizkids would host games and tournaments and needed envoy/judges to run them, stay organized, pass out prizes, and do demonstrations on the show floor. For the most part I had fun, I met some people, I liked working the gaming area, I’d get some figures of my own for working and I got into the event for free. Yes, volunteering is a free pass into the show.

There are perks and minuses to volunteering. If you don’t have the money but really  want to go, this will get you in for free. However it will act as your job for the day. You’ll need to be on time, stay when they need you and man your post. As a guest or ticketholder you can wander all you want, arrive when you want, leave when you want, do laps around the floor make trips to your car go down the street for food with complete freedom.  But volunteering ties you down until you’re granted a lunch break or a few minutes to check out the con.  Sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll get something in addition to a pass, sometimes it’s a t-shirt, I got a hardcover “100 covers of Wizard” book for staying after the show was over to direct parking for vendors to pack up. Depending on your job you could meet the artists/stars/editors/talent while working. One girl I met would close out the “end of the line” spots for signings and guard the signing table, by the end of the weekend her shirt was covered with signatures and Jim Lee drew a huge Batman profile on the back of her shirt. I brought ice to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin… Alright that one isn’t interesting… when Wizard World had portfolio reviews I got to watch Axel Alonso make people cry. That was when Alonso was an editor of a stable of comics, I don’t remember which one but a stable is considered being the main editor of all the X-books or all the Spider-books, He’s now the Marvel editor-in-chief. While you are on the show floor or at the entrance or where ever you can still interact with people and take pictures. A group of volunteers in Boston in the past cosplay while volunteering, example: Rogue from the X-Men directed me to where Frank Quietly was signing. People watching becomes a sport, maybe make a bingo chart or scavenger hunt.

            With the good comes the bad though. I also spent 5 hours guarding stairs no one used. They led to a special lounge for staff and talent and we didn’t want any fanboys sneaking up there. Those were very boring hours and I didn’t know better to go buy something interested to read while I stood there. I did meet the Wizard Magazine owners mom…while standing at stairs.
As with any other customer service job you are responsible for everything that ever happens. If an artist is late, had to leave early or cancels it may be you that has to tell a con-goer or all the con-goers. Maybe the autographs for [TV Star X] are too expensive or the atm ran out of money or any number of things, you may get blamed for all of it. Lots of people will know it’s not your fault or there’s nothing you can do about it but there will be a few that think you have a shirt (the color of the other staff/volunteers) and the con name on it that you are in control of all situations. The best artillery you can have is information. Direct them to another artist, another atm, a different food vendor, or someone that may have the answer if you don’t. I was impressed with the willingness to help and find the answer when I asked some volunteers and helpers at Steampunk Worlds Fair who not only brought me to someone that could help but stayed there until my question was resolved or answered.  

            Also you’re helping the event. These events need people to direct traffic flow, hand out badges, answer questions or set up that fancy lounge I mentioned earlier. To speak to NYCC staff/volunteer professionalism last year, there was a situation where  unexpectedly the line got serious for Mark Bagley and was bogging down space for anyone else to get through. Pretty quickly staff placed a couple people to hold the line out of the way and still maintain everyone’s spot. (It was a matter of “We stand here, then you can go stand over there. Because here isn’t going to get us run over.”)

And more recently was when I helped for the CT Zombie Charge 5K: Mud and Blood 2013 event. I got to meet almost all the zombies that were trying to infect the runners. They also had volunteers to be present at any of the potentially dangerous obstacles, working the bag-check tables, getting people their registration numbers and flags, decontaminating the infected and working the parking area. The event was also held to benefit  The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, Connecticut Food Bank, and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  As I said whatever you can do will help the event and possibly help others. 

There is also the chance to get your foot in the door, if you make yourself known or are able to make regular contributions it may lead to a job in the future. At the very least you'll meet some people, make a few friends, learn a few things and have some stories to tell.

-Alex

Direct download: 9.10.2013_Episode_78.mp3
Category:Comics Movies & Videogames -- posted at: 9:44am EST
Comments[0]

1