The Life of a Convention Volunteer | A Note from the Director

Posted on October 28, 2015 «
Categories: 2015 Discussion Challenge, A Note from the Director «
Join in on the Conversation «
Is this a book review? Jump to the Quick Review

ICON 40 Recap

Well, I survived ICON 40. I was more involved this year than I was last year. Last year, I was the Social Media coordinator getting ICON on Twitter, scheduling regular social media pushes and I used my extremely novice design skills to create posters, web images and bookmarks. I was also the guest liaison for artist Megan Lara.

This year I did all of that, was a guest liaison for author and friend, Jim C. Hines, and got roped into programming at the last possible minute. I knew nothing about programming. All I knew was that you could not have a convention without Opening Ceremonies, some stuff in between and Closing Ceremonies. I worked with a few other volunteers to organize close to 200 different sessions. Then, since I’m a writer, I was tasked with panel descriptions. They turned out extremely cheesy and are tinged with my odd sense of humor.

All Things Outlander
If you dream about being whisked away to Scotland circa 1743, you should join your fellow Sassenachs for this discussion about all things Outlander.
British Invasion
Sherlock, Orphan Black, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Red Dwarf…the U.S. is importing and indulging in British television to the extreme. Come join fellow Anglophiles and discuss this other “British Invasion” that doesn’t necessarily involve 4 dudes singing Rock-n-Roll.
All Things Supernatural
Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus… Supernatural has exceeded critics expectations and become a cult hit with a large fan following. Are you one of the faithful hunters that would follow Sam and Dean to the depths of Hell and back? Come join other “wayward” fans in a spirited discussion about Supernatural.

In the end, I spent the weekend exchanging texts with Jim to make sure he was getting fed, ended up being on seven different panels and tweeted up a storm. My voice was nearly gone on Monday morning, but I was strangely energized by the whole event.

What did I learn after the weekend was over?

  1. Conventions, like ICON, could not survive without volunteers. Volunteers are needed to plan the convention from start to finish. Even the simplest task, like sending a tweet, cannot be done without someone volunteering to do it.

  2. Conventions are a great way to connect with other creative people. Even though I don’t necessarily consider myself creative, I learned that my skills as a project manager are needed. Extreme love for science fiction and fantasy isn’t enough to get a convention off the ground and keep it running for 2.5 days much less for 40 years.

  3. I need to be in the creative world. While I was exhausted and feeling a bit like a zombie by 4 PM on Sunday, there is something about being near authors and other fans that brings an unexpected happiness to my life.

So what’s next in my life as a convention volunteer? I will be actively working with the MidAmeriCon II Planning Committee on content for first time WorldCon attendees over the next several months. I will also continue to work with ICON as their Social Media Maven. The next year will be busy, but perhaps not as busy as it was this year. And I hope, a year from now, that I’m in a different place pursuing a new dream that’s been percolating since ICON 40 ended.

ICON 40 Memories in Photos
convention volunteer
Add this Link Up to your ICON 40 post.


ICON, a Mindbridge Foundation Project, is Iowa’s longest-running, fan organized science fiction and fantasy convention. Each convention features authors, artists, panels and workshops, parties, an art show, dealers room and more!

ICON 40 was hosted at the DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This year’s guests of honor included David Gerrold, Sarah Clemens, Ann Leckie, Kalli McCandless and Jim C. Hines.

Tags: , , ,

10 responses to “The Life of a Convention Volunteer | A Note from the Director

  1. Wow, sounds like you practically ran the place….lol. I am not sure how you did all that! That is a lot of stuff to do and not get paid anything, but sounds kind of fun at the same time. 🙂

    • Nah, didn’t run the place at all! We have a terrific group of dedicated volunteers that help pull off the convention every year. ICON wouldn’t exist without them. I’m so grateful for everyone that helped with the event.