What is a great way to attend WonderCon or San Diego Comic Con for free and be a part of one of the greatest shows on Earth as well as help fellow nerds? Why volunteering of course! Although, it is too late to volunteer for WonderCon or San Diego Comic Con in 2018, it isn’t too early to start planning for 2019.
I have been volunteering at WonderCon since 2015 and at San Diego Comic Con since 2013. Volunteering at both cons has been an incredibly rewarding and exciting experience for me. If you plan to volunteer for the first time, you need to be aware of a few important things.
The first step potential volunteers must take is to make sure that they have a MemberID, which can be done here by clicking this link.
Make sure to sign up for email notifications from Comic Con International. Also, I would suggest following Comic Con International on Twitter (@Comic_Con) and on Facebook. This ensures that new potential volunteers will know when Comic Con International (CCI) announces volunteer registration.
Securing a volunteer slot depends on luck and the con for which fans want to volunteer. For those potential volunteers who live in Anaheim or who plan to attend WonderCon, I would suggest volunteering for WonderCon first. Unlike volunteering for San Diego Comic Con, the potential volunteers do not have to sacrifice their firstborn to the Comic Con Gods to land a volunteer slot at WonderCon. Additionally, WonderCon is a great training ground for those who plan to try for a volunteer slot at San Diego Comic Con. Also, depending upon where the volunteers are assigned, they may have the opportunity to meet great artists, writers, actors, or other fans from around the world who share their passions.
What happens once someone has applied and been accepted as a volunteer? One of the questions potential volunteers need to answer in the application is whether they will be available before the start of the convention. In the past, I have volunteered before the start of both WonderCon and San Diego Comic Con.
I have found that before the con begins, the pace is slower and this gives new volunteers the chance to become acclimated before the onrush of fans into the convention. For those who are new to WonderCon, I would suggest this course of action. Once volunteers are secure in how the different departments work, they can volunteer during the days of the convention as the new volunteers will understand better how the convention is run. However, this does not mean the new volunteers’ assignment cannot be during the days of the convention. As a general rule, the volunteer staff will let volunteers decide which day they want to attend the convention for free if they work before the start of the convention. Volunteers who work during the operational days of the convention generally speaking can only attend for free on the day they volunteer. There are a few exceptions to this rule, which the volunteer staff will explain.
I recently volunteered at WonderCon 2018, March 23-25, before the start of the show. I was assigned a volunteer slot on the Thursday. To prepare for my volunteer assignment, I remembered these key items which help make the volunteer assignment easier.
- Show up at least 15 minutes before the assigned time.
- Dress comfortably and appropriately (the volunteer represents CCI).
- Dress in layers (it can get chilly in the convention center).
- Most importantly, WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! Volunteers might be assigned a job where they have to stand for 2-3 hours!
- Follow the instructions given by the staff.
- Enjoy yourself!
For my volunteer assignment at WonderCon 2018, I was assigned to attendee registration. Most attendees had their badges mailed to them but for various reasons (international attendees, badges lost in the mail, sent to incorrect or old address, late purchase, or alien abduction), some attendees did not receive a badge. Because of the efficiency of the mailing process, there were very few attendees there to pick up badges, so we may have engaged in hyperbole to get the attendees to come through our line. Rumor has that some volunteers promised steak dinners and platinum credit cards to have attendees come through their station. It was great fun and everyone including the security guards enjoyed themselves.
There is one other major plus for volunteering at WonderCon is that it gives the permanent staff an opportunity to get to know the volunteers. Each volunteer turns in a rating slip at the end of their shift. The people who review these rating slips are the same staff that work at San Diego Comic Con. If volunteers are punctual, appropriately attired, and have a can-do attitude as well as a sense of excitement, they will develop a good history with CCI, which can be an advantage when volunteer registration opens for San Diego Comic Con. Securing a volunteer slot for San Diego Comic Con can be as difficult as securing an attendee badge. Volunteering at WonderCon is NOT A GUARANTEE of securing a volunteer slot at San Diego Comic Con, but it is possible for great volunteers at WonderCon to have an advantage when it is time to apply for a volunteer assignment at San Diego Comic Con.
WonderCon 2018 was a wonderful experience for me. I am scheduled to volunteer at San Diego Comic Con 2018 and I cannot wait. Please think about volunteering in 2019 and join Comic Con International as they put on the greatest shows on Earth. This is your chance to be a part of something grand and exciting as well help fellow nerds and geeks!