Ask an Enforcer! (PAX Volunteer)
With PAX Aus being a whole new event, it's likely going to need a massive influx of new and amazing volunteers whom are called Enforcers.
PAX has been around since 2004 and some of the people who volunteer have been around just as long and some of them even frequent our forums.
I'm sure many people who are interested in volunteering for PAX have lots of questions about what kinds of jobs there are, what the hours are like, or what being part of that community is like.
Keep in mind they may not be able to answer all of your questions, or give you advanced information that's not yet for public consumption.
"we're just doing what smalllady told us to do" - @Heels
What sort of pre-Pax prep is there prior to the event? I'd like to do it but getting time off for both PAX and any prep would be difficult if it isn't in Sydney.
What sort of jobs do enforcers actually do? My impression from other PAX's was queue herding, ticket validation type and just wandering around being helpful. I imagine they also liase with security at the site as well help coord first aid?
And of course there must be a lot of work with setting up and packing up.
Setup: Wednesday and Thursday setup is not mandatory, but highly encouraged. Your only requirements for Enforcing are working your assigned shifts, which is typically the same 6 hour shift on Fri/Sat/Sun. As far as setup goes, Enforcers are involved with setting up freeplay areas, doing line prep work, assisting exhibitors in the expo hall, checking in other Enforcers, some A/V work (although that's mainly handled by the venue staff). The bulk of the efforts go into setting up the PC/Console/Tabletop freeplay rooms. And yes, there is a lot of setup/teardown involved in a PAX.
Jobs: Here are the departments that you can try to get yourself assigned to (again, read disclaimer, my comments after the dash):
Registration (pass pick up, media check-in, etc.)
Line Management - Self Explanatory
Line Entertainment - Also self-explanatory
Console Freeplay - Handle checking in/out of games/controllers to people
Classic Console Freeplay - Pretty much the same thing
Console Tournament - Handle tourney sign-ups and make sure players/teams are where they should be
PC Security - Make sure none of the computers develop legs and walk out of the room when they shouldn't
PC (Freeplay, Tournament & Spareboard) - See console, except you have to deal with computer availability
BYOC - Check in other people's computers, participate in mini-tournaments and games with BYOC attendees, make sure they're stuff stays there
Tabletop - See console
Main Theatre - Line management and some backstage work
Satellite Theatres - A combination of LM and logistical work for panel rooms that aren't the Main Theater
Exhibition Hall - Help out exhibitors, mainly with LM
Handheld Lounges - Another freeplay area, where people conveniently bring their own consoles
Enforcer Welfare - Help make sure other Enforcers stay on their feet the whole weekend by keeping them properly fed/hydrated/rested
Special Rooms - Areas that doesn't fall into any of the above
Spareboard (extra staff, you might end up doing anything)
Info Booth - They've got questions, you've got answers (this is also where I've worked the past two PAX)
There are other roles, but they are either invite only or require certain credentials. For example, we have a small security team that coordinates with venue security for any major issues, but they mainly come from law enforcement/security backgrounds and are hand-picked.
I have done both, it is a great experience and fun either way. @Whacktose is right, as an Enforcer you are only expected to work your shift, otherwise you are an attendee and get to enjoy the show as such. As an attendee you get that extra time to do what you like and participate in more of the numerous community events, but even then these days we have Enforcers who lead double lives at PAX, involving themselves with the PAX Prank, Cookie Brigade, Tri-Wizard Drinking Tournament/Pokecrawl and smaller things like the /dance party. One even spent every night of PAX performing chiptunes at shows around Seattle. EVERY. NIGHT.
So yeah, it is entirely up to you, either way you'll end up meeting a bunch of new people who make great friends, get to see a huge show and have a blast. But as an Enforcer, you get to make it happen too.
"We know that the moment we slip, it will be taken away... and so it is of the utmost importance to be worthy of it constantly."
PAX will always be held on the best weekend for PAX. Sometimes that will be a bad weekend for you; I'm sorry.
The PA staff are also very accommodating around scheduling. They usually have the line up of panels / events set before they call for shift requests, and they work hard to make sure if there is one shift you just can't work they will fit you in somewhere else. Don't feel like just because you're working the convention you wont see what you want to see.
Note: As with any job, Enforcing is only as good as you make it. Sure you might be shifting chairs for a few hours one day, but if you can see the fun in anything, and take pride in your work you will find joy in it. It is very easy as an Enforcer to get lost in the crowd. Always ask questions, offer to help, be proactive and friendly. Unless you have a very specific job you'll be doing a whole heap of busy work. Take it in your stride. Remember you're a small cog, part of a bigger machine. You might not feel like it sometimes, but even the small cogs are important to the smooth operation of PAX.
I'm 37 and I know there are some older then I. I have to say the bulk of the crew is low to mid 20's though. They will make you feel old sometimes, dang kids. But, its nice sometimes to sit back when a physical task is offered and say "you take this one youngin".
yes, I believe that's how it works.
As said above, you still get plenty of time to see just about everything you want while you're off shift and you'll get to meet some of the best and nicest geeks and nerds the world has to offer!
Sanity is a slippery slope, and I'm wearing Teflon shoes.
Do any of the jobs require specific experience? Is previous expo volunteer experience neccessary, or are we likely to get a spot even if this is our first time?
If it's anything like the convention I helped to coordinate, many of our volunteers had no experience, but there was training time, where your role was explained and anything you needed to learn was taught (Usually pretty simple stuff!). As for actual likelihood to get a spot, I can't really say much on that XD
Previous convention experience, retail experience, customer service, etc are indeed a plus. How likely you are to get in depends entirely on how many staff they need and how many applications there are. Not something we can know at this point.
Take the application seriously like you would any job application for a role you really want is the best advice that I can give.
Actually I'd go to the extent of saying that if you're not going with friends, or are unsure of what it'll be like, it's a great way to familiarise yourself with the convention, and different aspects of attending. The first time my application was pretty sad. They said 'skills' and I sat there thinking... 'None?' But settled on 'Public Speaking, Leadership and Problem solving under pressure' (from previous job experience) and that led to a lot of opportunities for me.
The best advice I'd give for first time volunteers is be open minded, and ready for anything! It's one hell of a ride, especially being the first year in Oz!
Oh and zerochosen, I'm your weird great aunt (40+) so you totally get to do the heavy lifting around me you whipper-snapper you!
Isn't it always the way? :winky: