|Monday and Tuesday
Smiling faces, giddy laughter and the occasional, “FJORG!” fill the New Orleans convention center walls as soon as one walks through the promising glass doors. Exhibitors rush to their booths, speakers hurry to their respective rooms, and in the midst of it all the student workers are planted, carefully assuring that all of this goes off without a hitch.
I stepped into the convention center on Monday not knowing what to expect. The sheer size of the convention center is daunting for anyone, and at my respectable 5ft 0, it left me feeling a little meager in my Student Volunteer cap. None the less, the minute I donned my red vest it seemed that all of the convention was at my fingertips. When I stepped out of the SV office ready for my first shift, I knew that not only would I work for the conference but that conference would, in turn, work for me.
As a SV, you’re never alone. Anyone wearing a tan ‘Student Volunteer’ hat is an instant connection to whatever you could possibly want to do. It’s like having 399 friends from all over the globe eager to talk to you and share the conventions $11.00 chicken sandwiches with. Just talking with these kids is amazing. In the past two days I’ve met kids from China, Spain, Brazil, and India as well as other kids from around the states. Like good little students, we all exchanged business cards and other contact information to help broaden our social and business network.
During your shifts, you could be anything from a door guard to Quazi the robot himself. From what I can tell, the shifts are what you make them—the more outgoing you are the better! Student Volunteers are crawling on every inch of the conference floor, so meeting very important people in the industry comes naturally. I myself have gotten three business cards from Disney reps, and I saw one of my fellow Student Volunteers chatting up one of the high-ups from Autodesk when he finished his shift.
The first thing that struck me is just how friendly everyone is. 1,000 potential SV’s applied, and less than half were accepted, so we’re working with the cream of the crop. There’s not a debbie downer among us—something I’ve rarely experienced. You can literally walk up to anyone of us and start a conversation and expect to make a friend out of it. It’s truly amazing.
It is a busy time, and you might go home with aching feet. The foods expensive too—but we do get meal vouchers. It’s not a million dollars, but it’s helpful. I really wasn’t exaggerating earlier though when I mentioned the $11 chicken sandwich—its what I paid for one this afternoon, must to my dismay.
The shifts though, are cool. On Monday I got to take pictures of ACM SIGGRAPH members doing silly things for a giant wall collage. I didn’t have any photography skills (unless you count my amazing myspace picture-taking skills, of course. Then I’m a genius with a camera.) but I learned a lot. Tuesday, I worked the Fjorg area, which is a 32 hour animation competition, and I helped keep up team moral, answer questions from passers by, and encourage people to come back to view the ending at 5pm. It was a lot of fun, and I ended up meeting a lot of the people who put Fjorg together. I got free dinner and a Viking hat out of it, as well as four new friends. It was definitely a good time.
Before my shift I had time to get some swag at the exhibition center, and see some cool entries in the Computer Animation Festival. SV’s get full access passes to everywhere in the conference for free, so exploring is a must. The convention center has three floors, so there’s a lot to see and experience.
The geek bar looks totally awesome this year. Disney has posters and cut outs everywhere from their new movie, ‘The Princess and The Frog,’ which conveniently takes place in New Orleans and adds amazing atmosphere to the area. The room is called the VooDoo Lounge, and with its dark purple lighting it certainly lives up to its name.
New Orleans in itself is such an amazing city. It’s my first time here, and my hotel is right on the French Quarter so I’m getting the full experience. SIGGRAPH too, keeps up the New Orleans spirit. On Monday night they had a big band in a conference room playing traditional New Orleans jazz. It was so awesome because its just what I would expect from a city like this. SIGGRAPH certainly didn’t disappoint this year.
Being a student, and worrier at that, I did bring homework with me. I attend The Art Institute of Phoenix in Arizona, and we’re a year round school so, coming to SIGGRAPH meant I’m missing the week of school right before midterms. It was certainly worth it, that’s for sure, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to go and do some homework now. I cannot wait for what tomorrow holds, though, and I’ll be sure to tell you guys all about it. In the mean time, enjoy yourselves where you are, and be sure to attend the next SIGGRAPH convention as a student volunteer if you can!