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Volunteering at the SIGGRAPH Conference
Audience: Conference Attendee (any registration)
 
Background
Many aspects of the SIGGRAPH conference are driven by volunteer energy: content, planning, recruiting, support. If you have the time and interest to freely give to the conference, there are many ways you can help SIGGRAPH reach its goals of excellence year after year.
 
The key to volunteering is self motivation, being clear to yourself about what you want out of the experience will help ensure that you are satisfied in the end.
 
Essentials
  • Volunteer contacts. There are several ways to support the conference. One way is to attend the Get Involved! meeting held in the middle of the conference week. Another is to visit the next year's booth to gather background information. The SIGGRAPH Web site maintains volunteer applications under the conferences section.
     
  • Preparing yourself. People with clear ideas and plans for roles in the conference are more apt to play a direct role. Research the scope of what it takes to do what you want to do. Be clear about what you can contribute and what you would need to feel successful about your work.
     
  • Lead time. SIGGRAPH conferences start well in advance of the event. The conference chair is appointed three years before. Conference committee roles are often filled about 1.5 years in advance. Subcommittee roles fill in six to eight months after the initial conference committee meeting. Even student volunteer roles require application up to six months before the conference.
     
  • Commitment. SIGGRAPH conferences can consume large amounts of spare time. Many discover that more involved roles can take twice (or more!) the time estimated from the beginning. Since SIGGRAPH counts on the reliability of commitments, you should understand how much you can promise to any given effort.
     
  • Personal support. Volunteer times means time away from family, friends, and company work. Seek permission from your employer, family, and friends to understand the latitude you will have to succeed in your goals.
     
  • Student volunteers. Students provide vital support for the conference. Although many roles are not glamorous, participants witness, meet, and learn about many facets of the industry not seen by most people.
     
  • Contributing content. Another form of volunteer participation is contributing to the content of the conference. Refer to the current Call for Participation for information on how to become a contributor or presenter.
     
  • Donations are another form of voluntary support for the conference. Gifts (or loans) of equipment, services, and cash for non-commercial recognition help further the specialized needs of contributors.

Frequently Asked Questions
 
Q: How do I volunteer for this year's conference?
A: If you are at SIGGRAPH 2001, it is unlikely there are immediate needs for volunteer work. You are welcome to investigate other opportunities to contribute as mentioned in the Essentials section.
 
Q: Will SIGGRAPH help me gain the support of my employer?
A: After you have identified an appropriate role with a sponsoring conference program chair, they can usually help to scope your job and communicate the benefits of volunteering to your employer. At the end of your contribution, letters of thanks can also be sent to specific recipients to help future cases for volunteering.
 
Q: Do volunteers get paid for their work?
A: No, volunteers are not compensated for their work, although the conference does cover certain essential functions such as travel, lodging, phone, etc., as deemed necessary for specific roles.
 
Checklist
  • Personal goals.
     
  • Conference roles of interest.
     
  • Volunteer application form.
     
  • Support commitment of employer, family, friends.
     
  • Timeline for application.

Feedback
 
This information was brought to you by SIGGRAPH Pathfinders, a volunteer group dedicated to mentoring of first-time conference visitors.
 
Please take a moment to help us help you. Share with us how this information improved (or could have improved) your conference experience. You can reach us at SIGGRAPH 2001 at the Pathfinder booth in main registration or via email: pathfinders@siggraph.org. Thank you.
 


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