January 27, 2017

Pros and Cons of Staffing...at Cons

I'm back! Things have been crazy the past two months, and this is one of the reasons why.  I was part of the staff team for Izumicon in Oklahoma.
While every con is different in what they offer to volunteers, the one thing that is important, no 
matter which one you work for, is that you enjoy it. This is key to having a good staffing experience. In case you need a few examples to help make up your mind, here's a few things to expect. 

My shirt and badge for the weekend.

Pros
Free Stuff: A few cons will take care of your hotel, feed you or give you funds for food, discounts or Staff-only items. The staff items also tend to be useful sometimes, like water bottles or drawstring backpacks. Some will even give free guest passes for a friend or family member depending. Some might not offer anything, so don't get your hopes up for too much since all cons are different.

Meet the Guests: Depending on how big the con is and what department you're in, you may get to meet some of the special guests. At AX, I didn't get to meet anyone simply due to the size of the con itself. At Izumicon, I met pretty much everyone since it was a small con. Just remember that they're human too, so try not to fangirl/fanboy too much. ;)

New friends: Aside from volunteering with long-time friends, you can make some new ones with the people you meet and see the entire weekend. Most will have similar interests, so all you have to do is be a bit social. Who knows? You may meet a new best friend.

Fun: If you're staffing only for the swag and you're not enjoying yourself, then you're doing it wrong! Staffing is supposed to be fun, not stressful. Yes, you're working, but making sure the attendees are having fun is pretty satisfying. Just make sure to get enough sleep and wear comfy shoes/clothes.

Dead Dog: One of the main things we look forward to after a long weekend of work is the staff-only after party. With a morbid name like that, first-timers might be put off by it. Once you experience it, though, you'll be looking forward to Dead Dog every year.

Cons
Setup/Teardown: This is both fun and hard at the same time. On one hand, you're getting a cool behind-the-scenes experience normal attendees don't get. On the other hand, you have to actually work. There's no slacking off especially when it comes to setup. You have to get it done before Opening Ceremonies. Helping out will definitely make you appreciate the hard work the team goes through every con, but don't force yourself if you can't make it.

Room sharing: If a con puts you up in a hotel, you will most likely have to share it with three other people, at least. Sharing beds isn't an issue for some, but I know others will freak out if they have to share a bed with someone else. Thankfully, some hotels offer roll-away beds. If they don't, sleeping bags or cots will do the job. Just please remember to shower! No one wants to smell your B.O. when trying to get a few hours of sleep before another day of work.

Attitudes from other staff: While I only experienced this a couple times, it's still annoying. Some people will be stressed and take their frustrations out on you, but you should NEVER act the same way to them since it will just make you both look bad. Instead, talk to your department manager to get any issues resolved. Remember, we're supposed to enjoy ourselves, not start fights.

Dehydration/hunger: When staffing, make sure you always have a water bottle with you and that you drink it regularly. I personally have a bad habit of not drinking while working, so I'm almost always dehydrated. This is a serious issue that can put you in the hospital for a few hours. If the con you're staffing at has free water available, take advantage of it. also, make sure you eat a decent meal! Snacking is also a good way to maintain energy while working, but make sure you snack during breaks, not in the middle of your shift if you can help it.

Cosplay: If you have a super awesome cosplay that you plan to show off while on staff, it may not be allowed during your shifts. Some departments require  you to dress a certain way or some cons may just not allow staff to cosplay at all because of your duties. Cosplaying on your free time during the con is acceptable, but check with your department leader to be sure.

Applying: Volunteering for staff doesn't mean you will automatically be accepted. It's similar to getting an actual job. You have to go through interviews and meetings, but no guarantee you're on staff until a month or two before con. Don't get discouraged if you're not chosen. There's always other cons to apply for.


Want to help make your con an enjoyable event by staffing? 
Check here for dates and locations near you!



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