what do you think organizers are looking for in volunteers to a large techy conference?
October 30, 2011 2:55 AM   Subscribe

What do you think that organizers are asking for in volunteers to a large techy conference?

I really want to go to a conference next year, but it's extremely expensive (approx $4000 for three days plus airfares, accommodation etc).
But...... they do have some volunteer positions, you have to fill out a form and give a small bio. and a description of why you want to attend and what you think will make you a good candidate.
The conference is tech and futuristic in nature.Apart from boundless enthusiasm and real interest in the subject matter and very good people skills(even though I say it myself!) and speaking three languages, I am also very flexible and could arrive before the conference to help set things up etc.Is there anything else I should include ? I really would love to do this!What would sell me ? I am older than I imagine many volunteers-40 and don't know if that would "count " for or against me -Can any fabulous Mefites advise further?
posted by hitchcockblonde to Education (5 answers total)
I volunteered at a sciency conference as a student. The work was beyond simple. Stand here and tell people to go down this hall for the talk on subject x. Go from this room to that room and move a video projector. Help stack informational material at the front lobby.

It was actually kinda fun though, meeting and talkin to all sorts of people in my role as a volunteer made it very easy to strike up a convo later at different meetings, meals, demos and such during my non-volunteer hours.

So what would they like to hear? That you'll show up on time and actually listen to instruction and be a good gopher for the most part.
posted by ian1977 at 4:21 AM on October 30, 2011

Which conference is it? For shows like Web 2.0, being slightly older (and having the presumable improvement in communication skills/resourcefulness which comes with that) might be a real advantage. But overall, all the conference organizers I know are looking to control chaos. Anyone who indicates they know how to keep guests docile, speakers happy, and organizers unstressed is automatically going to be a good candidate.
posted by anildash at 5:58 AM on October 30, 2011

I've attended many academic conferences (actually volunteering at my first this fall) and I think ian and anildash have it. You may be asked to sit at the registration desk and hand out conference tote bags, or direct traffic, or manage transitions between sessions in a conference room. I'm sort of hoping I get tapped for A/V support because it'll be more interesting than directing traffic.

The only way I can imagine your age counting against you is if it's an academic conference (and by the sound of the price, it isn't -- whoa), in which case they may want grad students in the field to have first go at the volunteer slots.
posted by Alterscape at 6:56 AM on October 30, 2011

I volunteer each year at a very similar conference. Most of our volunteers are in their late 30s/early 40s, and the number one skill required is an ability to just deal with whatever comes up - the speakers and attendees are all quirky famous people, and quirky famous people don't want to be bothered with the details of why the thing they need isn't happening the way they want it to - they just want it to happen. A volunteer who is capable of figuring things out without a lot of of guidance - and doing so calmly and with good communication skills - is a valuable asset. There's also a lot of grunt work in terms of things like packing and unpacking boxes of conference materials, so it's not all glamorous interactions with quirky famous people, so you need to have some patience and cheerfulness about that.

I would suggest that your application form focus on your confident and calm ability to roll with whatever comes up. Boundless enthusiasm is great, but likely won't set you apart from other applicants, and isn't really the thing the organizers need in a pinch.
posted by judith at 9:28 AM on October 30, 2011

Thank you all, wonderful suggestions as always- I am nothing if not willing to do scut work and can pretty much handle any eventuality that comes my way -and
I mean pretty much anything! I'll be applying tonight !

P.s.is there any kind of reply mechanism on metafilter that let's people report on their progress?
This isn't actually related to this - I'm about to reply to someone else's travel reply and would love to know how they get on!
posted by hitchcockblonde at 6:13 AM on October 31, 2011

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