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Looking to volunteer/get involved

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  • Question: Looking to volunteer/get involved

    So, new account and y'all don't know me from anybody. But I have an opportunity to get to Vegas this year for the convention and I've basically got no agenda or objective other than to meet people. I find the best way to do that is to look for opportunities to volunteer and be helpful.

    Where/with whom do I start? :)

    I'm semitechnical, you could say, but I'm also a people person and good at being pointed in a direction and doing what I'm told.

    Happy to take it offline for a conversation and provide any real credentials/references. I have a few friends/colleagues who have been involved at several levels in the past, this year included.

  • #2
    If you have never been to DEF CON, would you really want to volunteer most of your time working?
    Few people want to spend money to travel to a place, to spend money on a hotel room, and the higher food prices while travelling, and pay to get a badge to enter DEF CON just to volunteer their time.

    (Most volunteers have been to several DEF CON, and choose to "give back" to the community that brought them joy, after years of fun.)

    Still looking to be a volunteer?
    Make a list of your interests.
    Look at the list of contests, events, Villages, gatherings, parties, etc. and see which have elements which overlap your interests, and where you contributions could be a net gain.
    Of those that appear to match, are any run by anyone that you know? Do you know anyone who is volunteering to help work at one of these? Knowing someone who runs a thing, and knowing someone who has volunteered to work at a thing are both opportunities to get an introduction and assigned to work as a volunteer.

    If you want to volunteer and do not know anyone working where you want to work who can vouch for you, that make it more difficult.
    One option if you started last year, would be to put in a request to run a village, or contest or event or "whatever" : but the deadline in "call for (thing)" closed a long time ago.

    Another option is to visit the thing that interests you and volunteer unofficially. Get to know the people running the thing that interests you. If you like them, and they like you, maybe they will have an official opportunity for you to be a volunteer the following year?

    As for goons... each department has their own recruiting process. However, many tend to share several basic requirements: First, they have to have a need for someone to join them as a goon. Next, the candidate has to have skills appropriate to the department they want to join. Next, can someone in the department vouch for you? Most recruitment in departments happen because someone in the department "know the perfect person for the role that has opened up." Most goons have attended DEF CON several times as non-goons. The same consideration apply for becoming a goon: do you really want to spend most of your time as a volunteer?

    Good luck!
    Last edited by number6; July 5, 2022, 18:53.


    • JetSmooth
      JetSmooth commented
      Editing a comment
      You're totally right. I'd be nuts to want to just work the whole time. This won't be my first DEF CON, but the other times I've been to most conferences, it was for work and I honestly barely got to experience them between meetings, my own presentations, manning a booth/suite, etc.

      This time it's an opportunity with a mandate to just get out and meet people. Part of my job now is somewhat informal BD (hate the term), but I much prefer to meet interesting people, build my network, and make myself available to be helpful in connecting folks. That's why I figured volunteering might be a good avenue.

      Thanks for the tips!

  • #3
    Volunteers can get a better understanding of a few people really well, as working together with others helps you to learn about each other, but it can limit those relationships to just those people.

    Having freedom to attend all of the things gives you a chance to meet many more people and "choose your own DEF CON adventure" : stay longer, choose to try something else, if you find a group that you don't quite mesh with, then try a different group or location, meet people you "click" with and spend a lot of time with them, Maybe through this path you will find people you want to voluteer with at some future DEF CON, or keep talking between DEF CON.


    • JetSmooth
      JetSmooth commented
      Editing a comment
      Very good point. I really appreciate your insights. Maybe I'll make this the year to just sort of work my way into every conversation and group I can find. I'm pretty good at that.

  • #4
    It's your first year and you don't know anyone and no one knows you, the way to change that is to play the scavenger hunt. The game encourages you to interact with people and as many elements of defcon as possible.

    We have had a number of players go on to become speakers, contest organizers, and goons.


    • JetSmooth
      JetSmooth commented
      Editing a comment
      Perfect recommendation. Will def look into that! Thank you.