So You Are Volunteering at Comic-Con International…What to Know Before You Go!

Photo: Erika Rivera
Photo: Erika Rivera

As a first time Comic-Con International attendee and a very broke law student, the only way I was going to get to go to the con of my dreams was by getting in for free. Luckily, SDCC has a way for us cheap, money struggling, and hard-working nerdy individuals to do just that! The answer my frugal friend is volunteering!

Now if you are looking at this little article (my first article ever!), you probably already know about SDCC volunteering. However, if you are a first timer like I was, you will know that the information regarding what volunteers actually do, how to become one and what to expect when volunteering is quite scarce. So let me give you the briefest possible break down I can, while giving you the information I wish I had!

How to Become a Volunteer!

(A step by step exciting!)

First, I found out about volunteering by legitimately wondering around the Comic-Con international site. I saw the option to volunteer on the side bar and followed the instructions from there. I read many, many guides about how quickly volunteering fills up and manned my battle stations when the time came to sign up.

1. Membership ID

Get a Membership ID over the summer or before the month of August. A membership ID is your log-in for the Comic Con website and it is the ONLY way to become a volunteer.

2. Signing Up for the Listserv

Once you are on the profile of your membership ID badge there should be a link to get yourself signed up on the Volunteer listserv, CLICK THIS LINK AND SIGN UP. If you sign up you will receive all the volunteer information updates you need.

3. Frenzy Time

Now after months of waiting February comes around. In February the volunteer signup is released. Similar to badge pick up you must fill out a form and wait in a queue. You have about 3 minutes to type in all your information and you find out immediately if you will be volunteering.

(Note: If you have volunteered Comic Con before you are legacy and get priority over the new volunteers, and  sign up for legacy is earlier).


Congrats you got accepted to volunteer! Now you wait for all the information to come streaming into your mailbox:)

5. Warning to Future Volunteers

Volunteering does not get you a free stay at Comic Con and it does not pay for your travel to San Diego. It only gets you into the Con for free the days that you work! (YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED).

You’re a Volunteer…now what?

1. Volunteering Before the Con Starts

A week before the Con officially starts an e-mail containing a google form will go out asking if you are available to volunteer early (aka. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). This year (2014) they took two volunteers Monday, sixty volunteers Tuesday, and 600 Wednesday (Preview Night). If you work one of these shifts you get a free day at the con (I chose not to work Saturday). Now these shifts fill up fast, so if you want a free day and are available to work, I highly recommend signing up for this when it comes out!

2. Getting Your Assignment

As this amazing article about volunteering by Zack Young will tell you ARRIVE EARLY TO GET YOUR ASSIGNMENT. I cannot and will not stress this enough. I got there Wednesday at 7:00am to get my assignment for Thursday and Check-In for my Wednesday 2:30pm assignment. I was in great company. By 10:00am when the volunteer hall opened up for Check-In’s the line had about 400+ people in it wrapping around the Marriot.

Lucky for me, being early (but not alone), I got to pick the perfect shift for Thursday (6:00am-9:00am), which allowed me to go to all my panels. SO GET THERE EARLY!

3. Choosing Your Assignment

First, there are no bad assignments just boring ones, and even then they aren’t actually that bad. I held a sign pointing to where the volunteers need to go to check-in for three hours and I was lucky enough to make friends with the people standing around me to make the time go by. They wont kill you for having your phone out or listening to music, just be attentive.

Other assignments involve aiding the disabled, art show, line management, volunteer check-in desk, and volunteer pool. If you have questions about anything more specific assignment wise just contact us! (Otherwise this article will be way too long!).

 4.Arriving For Your Shift

Every single one of your volunteer positions is going to require you to arrive 30 minutes before your shift starts. Although this rule is not strictly enforced I HIGHLY recommend following it. It could affect your rating that the Supervisor gives you and therefore hurt you for next year! (I know sad face).

 5. Trying to Change Your Assignment

The simple answer is you can’t and you shouldn’t. Have your schedule of panels ahead of time and be ready to say either the position you want or the time you want to work. The schedulers work hard to make everyone happy! DO NOT MAKE THEIR LIVES MORE DIFFICULT.

 6. Checking-In For Your Next Assignment

You can schedule your next day’s assignment at 1:30pm the day before or 2 hours after your shift, whichever one comes later! So the early shifts tend to get the picking of the better assignments. However, that is just a matter of perspective in regards to what the better assignments are.

7. Tips and Tid-bits

  • If you arrive over an hour late for your shift go to scheduling to get a new assignment, they wont kill you
  • Hearsay from this years con stated over 40% of the volunteers were a no-show (however picking up extra shifts is almost impossible because the con plans for this)
  • Do not worry about volunteering alone, just like in Hall H and B20 lines everyone is AWESOME
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions to the big guns behind the volunteer desk
  • WEAR PRACTICAL CLOTHING (it gets hot and sometimes you are running ALL over the place, be prepared for your shift)
  • STAY HYDRATED, STAY HYDRATED, STAY HYDRATED! (A lot of shifts are outside!)

I hope this answers some questions and if you have anymore feel free to sound off below! Happy Conning and until next year!

Ilene Friedman
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  1. Hey that’s my article you referenced! 🙂 Great article about volunteering and glad you had such a good first go of it! I love it and totally enjoy the experience each time!

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