I have a friend named Luis. He and I first met when he helped me out at a celebrity line up at Fan Expo a couple of years ago. He has been a convention volunteer for about 7 years now. He first started out doing Fan Expo and Toronto ComiCon, but now splits his time between 7 to 10 conventions over the year. I thought that I would focus on the convention where we met…..Fan Expo.
As an attendee, I know that we only see a fraction of the time and energy that is put into running a convention. No matter what area they are working in, the convention volunteer plays a huge role in making sure that things run smoothly (I also want to give a shout out to those volunteers who help out with the various vendor booths as well). When things go well we think that they are great.
However, things don’t always go well. We have all seen what a Saturday can be like at Fan Expo (or any convention for that matter). Long lines and frayed nerves can take an enjoyable day and turn it on its ear. Imagine what it’s like for the volunteer. They often end up at the receiving end of our frustrations.
With this in mind, I wondered why Luis became a volunteer in the first place. He did admit that the initial reason was because he was tired of waiting in the long lines. However, the trade-off can be quite demanding.
If you are a new volunteer, you can expect to start at the outer areas of the convention. As you gain experience, you can work your way to the areas where you would like to be. Luis has been fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your point of view) to work at the Celebrity Autograph area. You can expect to work anywhere from 5 to 10 hours a day with few breaks (on the busiest days). One of the hardest things that Luis has found is that no matter how much preparation is done, something can go wrong that can throw even the best laid plan out of whack.
So, let’s see…you can work long hours…..not a lot of time off….and spend the day dealing with impatient fans….oh, and you do it for FREE. Sounds like a dream job doesn’t it?
Why does Luis do it? Why does anyone, year after year, put themselves through all of that stress. What is it about working at a convention that makes it worth his while. Do you know what he told me?
It’s the people.
You have the opportunity to help out the new volunteers and make friends (like yours truly). For all the demands, he finds it to be an extremely rewarding job. I’ve talked to him about the people that he works with every year. They are a team. For Luis, it’s the people that makes all of the long hours and stress worth it and that’s why he comes back every year.
So, do you think that you could do it? Could you spend your weekend working your butt off so that people can have a great time? If so, may I suggest that you help out this year. Maybe if you are lucky, you will even get to work with someone like Luis.
Don’t think that you could do it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I couldn’t do what Luis and the others do (and that’s coming from someone who does a lot of volunteering here at home). However, there are a few things that you can do to help make the volunteer’s job a little easier and lower your own stress levels on those busy days.
- If things go wrong don’t take it out on them, as most of the time they had little to do with it.
- REMEMBER that the volunteers want to enjoy the convention as much as you do.
- BE PATIENT. You are sharing time and space with 110,000 of your closest friends remember. Things might get a bit busy.
- SMILE and say THANK YOU. We Canadians may be known for our manners but stick us in an entrance line up for a few hours and we can get ugly.
So thank you Luis and thanks to all of Fan Expo’s volunteers for your help every year. Have a blast in September everyone and when you see a volunteer don’t forgot to say Hello!
See you there!
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