Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Staff an Anime Convention?

Anime Expo Staffers, aren't they happy?
Being a fan of anime, manga, and Japanese video games means that we love a hobby that isn’t completely accepted as part of the social norms of Western society. These media are niches that appeal to segments of the population, while the other segment finds it foreign and different. Due to the fact that our beloved hobbies are not part of mainstream society, it may be difficult to find people who share the same hobbies in our daily lives. The love of anime, manga, and video games is not blind to race, religion, age, nationality, culture, and education, it cuts across many different demographics. In an Anime Convention, we are able to meet people like us that are in similar situations from a variety of fandoms and segments of society. To make a convention run, there are people behind a convention called “staff” who make this great experience happen on a regular basis. I have been staffing Anime Expo for almost 8 years, so I will give my reasons why you should consider staffing an anime convention and tips and tricks on succeeding once you become staff.

Why Staff?

Makes the Con Cheaper – When you staff an Anime Convention, you are normally in a volunteer position. While the work you do in an Anime Con is volunteer work, there is normally perks that Convention Staff receive to make it a little easier. Depending on the con you work for, there may likely be a free badge, heavily subsidized hotels, and food perks. Over the course of the Anime Convention these perks really go a long way in saving money that you as a staffer can use to spend on things that you want to buy. The perks that staff gets are determined by the financial state of the organization, size of the convention, and age of the convention. A newer convention is less likely to give a large amount of perks due to the fact that there is not a stable cash flow.

Look at that, a staff photographer
with an amazing lens
Gives you Experience – Anime Conventions are great ways to get experience that you can put on your resume. Whether the convention is a for-profit or a nonprofit organization, you as a staffer get experience to boost that resume. As you start climbing the convention ladder you start attaining management –level and even Director Positions, which are huge resume boosters since it teaches you skills that will help you in the real world like staff management, strategic planning, budgeting, marketing, and behavior management.

Helps you find yourself – I can tell you from personal experience that staffing in Anime Conventions are a great way to find yourself. As you do work as a volunteer you are exposed to a variety of situations, some of which will be good or bad. When dealing with these situations, you learn things about yourself that you otherwise would not know about. In my many years of working at Anime Expo, I fell in love with management, and that basically put me in a completely different course in my life. For the longest time I thought I would be a teacher with a PhD, teaching in a University somewhere. After being a manager in Anime Expo, I decided to go down the path of business and get my MBA. I would not learn this about myself had I not staffed Anime Expo.

Not even 1/3 of Anime Expo Staff
Expands your Horizons – One of the great fallacies is that people assume that there is a blanket “Anime Convention Culture” that people have when attending an anime convention. Culture in an Anime Con really is just a hodgepodge of subcultures within Anime, Manga, and Video Games. There are fans of yaoi, hentai, gender bending, cosplay, photography, moe, comic-books, music, fashion, and many more. As you work in an Anime Convention as staff, you are forced to deal with a variety of cultures that may seem foreign to you. When I first went to an Anime Convention, I was appalled at the openness of certain fans, but after working in it for a while I started accepting it, even embracing the fans and the culture around it. When you deal with a variety of cultures within Anime, manga, and games, you are forced to get out of your comfort zone, which makes you a better person.

Gives a Greater Appreciation of Work behind the Scenes – There is lots of hard work to make an Anime Convention run smoothly. Working behind the scenes gives you an appreciation of the hard work and passion that people have for the convention and the industry they work hard to promote. When you work in the trenches and deal with a variety of situations, you have a greater appreciation of the hard work that happens in a convention. Sure it can be stressful and nerve-wracking, but seeing the smile on someone’s face because of the hard work you do makes it all worthwhile.

The AX 2011
Manager of Manga Lounge
You Enter Anime and Manga Industry – In many online forums, people always ask how they enter the Anime and Manga industry. One of the easiest and best ways to do it is to staff an Anime Convention. What many people don’t understand is that Anime Conventions are part of the Anime and Manga industry, and with the decline in the industry Anime Cons have become an integral role as the keepers of the industry. In an Anime Convention, staff deals with many industry representatives from the major Anime and Manga Companies. When you start building networks, it opens more avenues if you want to work in those companies.

New friends – It may sound like an obvious answer, but it is probably one of the best answers I can give. Working in an Anime Convention means that you can make many new friends. After all, there is already the common love of the media. Working at an Anime Convention is an easy way to make friends with people because you work with them and you interact with them. You learn more about them, and they learn more about you. I have seen many great friendships and romantic relationships develop from working in a con together.

When you consider doing all of this, there are many great reasons to staff a convention. I have to give some advice when staffing isn’t right for you.

Time Limitations – Staffing an Anime Convention is very time consuming. I have seen many times people commit to staffing an Anime Convention, only to realize that the Anime Con takes too much time. Most staffers need to prepare the convention, so you should expect to dedicate at least the duration of the con plus an extra day for working the convention. During the convention you also have shifts that you are expected to do, and so expect that these shifts will take time away from what you may want to do.

Personality Conflict – When you work a convention where the only reward you will get is personal satisfaction there are people who are passionate about what they feel. This passion can and will lead to conflicts among each other. Learn to deal with it and it will ultimately make you a better person.

Staffing an Anime Convention is great; there are many rewards for staffing an Anime Convention. You get staff perks that makes the con a cheaper experience. Staffing gives you experience that you can put on your resume. It exposes you to a variety of situations, which in turn will allow you to find yourself. When you are exposed to a variety of subcultures, it expands your horizons and will allow you to appreciate aspects of anime culture you otherwise may not know about. You will learn about all the hard work that goes behind the scenes in a convention. Working in a con allows you to expand your personal network in the industry, and you can potentially have a new circle of friends to be with. There are many perks for staffing a con. Working a con is not for everyone, but for those that do work a con may find that it is a very rewarding experience to learn more about the world around them and the person within.


Rich$Con said...

So many pics of me! ::giggles:

Michelle Lu said...

Hi, I was wondering if you can give an example of how you can use anime conventions on your resume. also, if you worked in certain departments of the convention how that can help. Thanks!!