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Treating Volunteering for Championships Like Attending Conventions

July 12, 2018

 

The NCAA Men’s College World Series always runs square into convention season. This year, I was faced with the decision of which to attend.

 

On one hand, I hadn’t been to CoSIDA in five years and this year it was at the National Harbor in Maryland. I could make it into a mini-vacation as well and see all of my friends in the District and NoVa. Plus, I hadn’t had a vacation in … well, let’s not go there.

 

On the other hand, I had never been to the College World Series or to Omaha. Plus, I caught the bug for volunteering for NCAA Championships this past winter while working at the 2017 NCAA Volleyball Championship in Kansas City.

 

Once I found out who to contact for the College World Series, I shot him an email and was put in touch with the social media team. Cloud nine.

 

Whether you’re volunteering for tournaments, bowl games, professional playoff games, conference championships, regionals or championships at any level, keep the following in mind:

 

  1. Have a positive attitude. Postseason events are always long days that can morph into long weeks. Everyone is tired. Always take initiative and ask how - not if - you can help. And if someone asks you to help, jump up and quickly and accurately accomplish the task. See something that needs to be picked up or straightened? Go ahead and do it. In this industry, people notice and will remember your attitude and how you work.

  2. Have a goal at the event. Sure, you will get to see the championship game. But your time is valuable too. What do you want to get out of volunteering for this event? Networking? Learning a new software? If you are a student, what can you learn more about the profession that you might not get on your campus, and how can you take back what you’ve learned put it into use at your campus? Take notes, document your duties at the event, and report back to your supervisor on campus to show that your attendance at the event was well worth it.

  3. Be observant. Watch All.The.Things. that are going on around you. Please put your phone down. Sure, take a quick photo or selfie to mark the event, but you need to keep your eyes on what is going on. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Take advantage of it!

  4. Represent your employer positively. You are a representative of whatever organization is on your nametag. Keep that in mind with every action; people will remember where you’re from and will think of you and how you acted at the event when they think of your employer. This too goes for when you have your fan hat on.

  5. Ask questions, listen and retain information. When you have a few moments, jot down the highlights of what you learned, other big events of the day and what you want to ask about the next day. This will also help when you report back to your supervisor after the event, and to your supervisor at the event, you’ll seem like someone who genuinely wants to learn from the experience.

  6. Snag whatever handouts you can. If you’re an SID, you know that game notes can be the hardest part of the job. Grab a few of the championship teams’ notes or the NCAA game note packets to see how the “big schools” handle their notes, design and media coverage.

  7. Follow up. Send a thank-you note via snail mail. If you have more detailed questions, send an email. During the CWS, we were on the go and didn’t have time to chat about strategy because we needed to focus on the next game 15 minutes after the previous one ended. This is also a great way to nurture connections you’ve established while working at the event.  

 Be sure to check out where postseason events are each year. For the most part, regionals and finals change every year. If you follow these tips, you will develop a positive reputation around the country and chances are, you’ll be asked to volunteer at the event again.

 

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