2009 Conference & Stage Expo - A Student Volunteer
Sara Burnham writes about her experiences
at the recent USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Cincinnati
as a student volunteer. The program is open to USITT Student
members and applications for the 2010 program will be available
I attended my first USITT Annual Conference
last year in Houston. It just so happened that I grew up in
Houston, and so room and board were generously provided by my
parents, who were happy to see me the few hours I was home between
conference goings-on. By the end of that Conference, I was already
planning on how to make it to the 2009 event in Cincinnati.
A professor suggested the student volunteer program as a way
to help waive conference fees, and so I eagerly applied.
accepted into the student volunteer program, and my week’s assignments
were posted for me to peruse online. Working 15 hours over the
course of the Conference didn’t seem like a lot to ask,
and in the end I feel I gained as much from the time I spent
working as the time I spent in sessions.
The student volunteers
were assigned different tasks from trouble-shooting, to being
a room monitor, to working in the USITT office. I lucked
out; my first task was to be a room monitor for the Keynote
Address. D. Lynn Myers set the conference off to a great start,
speaking to the economic troubles that lay ahead and the ability
of theatres to continue to do quality work in spite of it all.
I was inspired and ready to make a difference.
And I did just that, as I was called to the Stage Expo floor
to help move bi-folds from one end to the other.
to make a difference as I worked in the USITT Conference
office. This, for me, was the best part of the student volunteer
program. Not only did I get to meet students from across the
country, I also was submerged deep into USITT inner workings.
I met the people who helped make the Conference happen, and
was in turn inspired to go to my Commission’s meeting and look for ways to get more involved
in the future. The office was, of course, all work and no play,
but somewhere in there I managed to meet almost everyone who
came through the door.
Whether it was someone trying to find
a lost cell phone or a presenter who had finally made it
to the conference center, I was networking whether I realized
it or not. I had the opportunity to pick the brains of those
around me who were working in their respective fields and gain
insight and knowledge about what to expect upon graduation.
We talked about everything from resumes, to portfolios, to why
the fire alarm was going off and still managed to get all the
copies made and assembled in time for the board meeting.
people I met while working in my student volunteer assignments
kept appearing -- at sessions, at Stage Expo, even on my
way to and from the Hilton. (They at least didn’t give me quite the
strange look that the local Cincinnatians did as I pushed an
A/V cart filled with water, paper and candy across downtown
Cincinnati). They smiled, and would often stop to chat or introduce
me to someone they were with. I had a whole new set of acquaintances
and contacts merely from helping the Conference to run smoothly.
Somehow, I think I received the better end of the deal here.
The student volunteer program not only provided
me with a financially feasible way to attend the Conference,
it enhanced my experience while at the Conference, putting me
in contact with people I would not have otherwise met. My only
regret? I graduate in May and won’t be eligible to be a student volunteer in