How To Be A Good Volunteer
So, You Want To Volunteer For A
It might not seem like a big deal; free labour isn’t usually turned down. However, being a good volunteer is something entirely different. After a few years of being a Volunteer Coordinator for NXNE, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Observe these guidelines if you want to be the kind of person who gets invited back the next year.
Know What You’re Applying For
Research the dates, times and location of the festival. You look pretty dumb when your application says that you’re unavailable for the entirety of festival week. Also, know what types of jobs are involved. Don’t be applying to work in the nightly venues if you’re only available in the daytime.
Just because you think you’d be an awesome stage manager doesn’t mean it’s true. You’re placed according to your noted experience and where you’d be of most help. Unless you’ve been with the festival since its inception, you’re not in a position to demand a certain job or venue.
Get Into the Music- To An Extent
There’s a difference between music enthusiasts and starfuckers, so contain your fangirl/boy, groupie tendencies. Don’t forget that you’re there to do a job; if the audience could run the show, you wouldn’t be hired. Similarly, extensive gushing about a band playing across town makes coordinators worry that you’ll jump ship that night.
Yes, volunteering is a great way to expand your network and open doors. That doesn’t mean you should come armed with stacks of your resumes and/or demos. Being awesome at your job will get you much further than attacking artists and industry reps. (That will just get you fired.)
Coordinators are under tons of pressure to get their staff placed and confirmed, so for the love of crap, answer their calls and emails. If you’re unreachable for long periods of time, you’ll likely be shelved. And if you are dropping out, let them know before day of your shift! Unless you have a good reason, which brings us to:
In most cases, honesty is preferred. However, if you’re going to make up an excuse as to why you can’t volunteer anymore, be creative. Seriously, the “family emergency” is boring and overdone. Disappointing news, conveyed in humourous form certainly brightens the day. It also gives coordinators something to laugh about when they’re losing it after 3 days of barely any sleep.
Festival staff will remember the awesome and awful individuals amongst their hundreds of volunteers. Be known as “ the guy who was willing to work all night and hang out at Tim Hortons’ until the morning trains started running” rather than “the one who got caught making out with some chick in the basement of a venue”. Seriously, both true.
Don’t be afraid to be personable (to a degree) with festival staff, they like being serious and formal as much as you do. After all, it’s rock n’ roll, not accounting! You’re in a unique situation, being surrounded by so many people who share your passion. Your fellow volunteers might just become your new best friends.