Last year I was able to volunteer at SXSW 2012 and it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had through my time at college. Being somewhat of a tech nerd, I was mostly excited for the interactive part of the festival. For those that don’t know what SXSW means, I’ll give a little background info:
SXSW is an interactive, film and music festival that brings together people from all the different industries to Austin, Texas for a week. Not only are startups born but celebrities frequent the streets of Austin during the festival and it is not uncommon to find something to do. The music festival is one of the largest in the world and gave John Mayer a boost to his career that led to his first record signing in 2000, while the interactive part is focused on emerging technology, Twitter even gained its popularity largely due to this event back in 2007.
As a volunteer, you get access to panels, a trade show, and many networking opportunities. As a volunteer, you save the $1595 price tag for a platinum badge. There are different types of volunteer crews you can work in.
Some tips for a great SXSW volunteer experience:
1. Have a plan. Figure out what shows/ panels you really don’t want to miss and plan your work schedule around them.
2. Have a plan B. Sometimes shows get moved around and you will have to adjust. Maybe you will need to add shifts for your desired badge or the times just won’t work. Having a back up plan will allow you to not waste time in deciding what to do.
3. Be spontaneous. This might completely contradict the previous two tips but if things don’t work out, look for something else that sounds fun. Maybe the free show playing down the road is not as crowded as the others but you might find to enjoy the music.
4. Go with friends. If you and a group of friends volunteer together it will make the whole experience even more fun. If you’re not going with friends, make some quick! People should be friends and you should be open to meeting people at these large events. You’ll be surprised at the unique individuals you encounter.
5. If you’re driving every day, be early. The traffic is worse than usual.
Overall, my SXSW experience was great and I can’t wait for next week!