By KAYLA SANDEFUR
This year’s Dragon*Con was a blast, complete with storm troopers, superheroes, and fans of all ages and genres. But what could you do next year when you want to go, but cannot afford it? You make it more affordable by volunteering to help.
Dragon*Con in Atlanta, held annually on Labor Day weekend, is a completely fan-based convention. This means that, unlike San Diego’s Comic Con, the convention itself is responsible for recruiting guests, instead of production companies and the like vying for panel time. This also means that we get to see who and what we want to see every year at Dragon*Con. Dragon*Con is completely run by volunteers. In other words, the people whom you see working at Con don’t get paid for what they are doing. If they do not get paid, then why work?
“With any department that you work for at Dragon*Con, the benefit is that you get a free pass into Dragon*Con that whole weekend. So, basically, your pay is at least a $65 four day pass to Dragon*Con,” said Carrie Tomberlin of Tech*Ops. Tech*Ops is just one of many departments that help make Dragon*Con a success. Tech*Ops is the largest department after security and it had more than 230 staff members this year.
According to Tomberlin, the department was still understaffed this year, and with new space additions to the convention next year, Tech*Ops will be looking for at least 40 new volunteers.
The volunteers in Tech*Ops run the show at Con. They run soundboards, lights, backstage, projectors, and numerous other gadgets to keep the show moving. Those people you see inside the ballrooms who tell you where to sit are also Tech*Ops volunteers. Many skills are useful in the technical side of the convention, some of which are organizational skills, people skills, and ability to take direction.
“We can teach you the technical side of things if you don’t have any prior knowledge or A/V skills,” said Tomberlin.
For all Dragon*Con volunteers, the required minimum is 25 hours in order to earn a badge for the next year, but most of the Tech*Ops volunteers will tell you that they never work just 25 hours.
“It was fun to work Dragon*Con. If I went as just a fan, I would not even know what to do,” said first year staff member Amber Fore. “I just tried to work in the room that the panels [that I wanted to see] were held so I could work and watch the panel at the same time.”
If Tech*Ops does not seem like a good fit for your interests, there are multiple other departments to volunteer for. There is security, which checks badges before entering the rooms. There is signage, which makes all the signs for the convention. There is also guest operations, which are the people who take the celebrities where they need to go during the convention.
Multiple other departments always have an eye out for good, hard-working volunteers and information can be found at dragoncon.org under the volunteer tab. For more information about Tech*Ops, visit techops.net and click the “join us” link.