Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a volunteer at the world's most famous cyber security events? From helping to manage the chaos and excitement of DefCon to working alongside talented professionals at BSides Las Vegas, volunteering is a unique and rewarding experience. Join us as we go behind the scenes and explore a day in the life of a DefCon and BSides Las Vegas volunteer.
The Journey Begins: Pre-Event Preparation
The Call for Volunteers
Every year, both DefCon and BSides Las Vegas put out a call for volunteers eager to help make the events a success. People from all over the world and with varying levels of experience in the cyber security field apply, hoping to become part of the team that brings these incredible events to life.
Choosing Your Role
Once you've been accepted as a volunteer, you'll have the opportunity to choose your role. From managing speaker schedules and assisting with workshops to helping with registration or coordinating social events, there's something for everyone. Consider your skills, interests, and what you hope to gain from the experience when selecting your role.
Training and Orientation
Before the events kick off, you'll attend a training and orientation session. Here, you'll learn about the specific responsibilities of your role, meet your fellow volunteers, and get a sense of the overall event schedule. This is a crucial time to ask questions, clarify expectations, and start building connections with your team.
Packing for the Big Week
As a volunteer, you'll need to be prepared for long days and a variety of tasks. Pack comfortable clothing, a reusable water bottle, snacks, and any necessary tech devices. Don't forget essentials like sunscreen and a portable phone charger, as you'll be constantly on the go.
Rise and Shine: The Early Morning Routine
Getting a Good Night's Sleep
With the excitement and adrenaline of the events, it's essential to prioritize rest. Make sure you get enough sleep each night to ensure you're energized and focused throughout the day.
Fueling Up with Breakfast
Kick off your day with a nutritious breakfast to keep you going. Whether it's a quick protein bar or a sit-down meal with fellow volunteers, starting your day with proper nutrition is key.
Staying Connected: Checking the Volunteer Schedule
Before you leave your accommodation, check the volunteer schedule for any updates or changes. This will help you stay on track and avoid any surprises during the day.
Dressing the Part: The Importance of a Comfortable and Professional Appearance
As a volunteer, you'll be representing the event to attendees, so it's essential to dress professionally while remaining comfortable. Opt for attire that's both functional and appropriate for the event setting.
Hitting the Ground Running: Morning Tasks
Arriving at the Venue
Arrive at the venue early to allow time for parking, checking in, and getting settled. The earlier you arrive, the better prepared you'll be for the day ahead.
Checking In and Getting Organized
Upon arrival, check in with your volunteer coordinator and pick up any necessary materials for the day. This may include a schedule, name badge, or event swag to wear while volunteering.
Morning Briefings and Team Huddles
Before the day officially begins, join your fellow volunteers for a morning briefing. This is a chance to discuss the day's schedule, address any concerns or questions, and build camaraderie within the team.
Tackling the First Tasks of the Day
As attendees start to arrive, jump into your assigned tasks. This may include welcoming guests, directing them to registration or specific workshops, or setting up equipment. Be prepared to handle any last-minute changes and think on your feet.
Navigating the Midday Madness
Staying Flexible: Adapting to Last-Minute Changes
In the fast-paced environment of DefCon and BSides Las Vegas, flexibility is key. Be prepared to adapt to last-minute schedule changes, room rearrangements, or other unforeseen challenges.
Balancing Volunteering and Attending Talks
As a volunteer, you may have opportunities to attend talks or workshops during your downtime. Plan your day accordingly and make the most of these valuable learning experiences.
Networking and Building Connections
Take advantage of breaks and downtime to network with fellow volunteers, speakers, and attendees. These events are fantastic opportunities to make connections and learn from others in the cyber security community.
Grabbing a Quick Bite: Lunch on the Go
Lunch breaks may be brief, so be prepared to grab a quick bite between tasks. Pack a lunch or scope out nearby dining options ahead of time to ensure you stay fueled throughout the day.
The Afternoon Rush: Maintaining the Momentum
Juggling Multiple Responsibilities
As the day progresses, you may find yourself juggling multiple tasks or assisting in areas outside of your initial role. Embrace these challenges and work as a team to ensure a smooth event experience for all attendees.
Providing Assistance to Attendees
Attendees may approach you with questions or concerns throughout the day. Be ready to provide helpful information, directions, or guidance to ensure they have a positive experience at the event.
Behind-the-Scenes Magic: Ensuring a Smooth Event Experience
As a volunteer, your efforts behind the scenes help create a seamless experience for attendees. From managing speaker transitions to troubleshooting technical issues, your hard work ensures the event runs smoothly.
Staying Energized and Focused Throughout the Day
Keep your energy levels up by staying hydrated, snacking when needed, and taking short breaks when possible. Maintain focus and stay committed to your tasks, as your work directly impacts the success of the event.
Winding Down: Evening Activities
Volunteer Debriefs and Feedback Sessions
At the end of each day, join your fellow volunteers for a debrief session. Share your experiences, discuss any challenges, and provide feedback to help improve the event moving forward.
Relaxing and Unwinding: Post-Event Socializing
After a long day of volunteering, take some time to unwind and socialize with fellow volunteers, speakers, and attendees. Many events host evening activities, providing a chance to relax and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals.
Exploring the Nightlife: Making the Most of Your Time in Las Vegas
As the events wind down, consider exploring the Las Vegas nightlife. Whether you prefer quiet dinners, lively shows, or hitting the casino floor, there's something for everyone in this vibrant city.
The Importance of Self-Care and Rest
Remember to prioritize self-care and rest throughout your time as a volunteer. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and take breaks when needed to ensure you're at your best for the event.
The Last Day: Reflections and Goodbyes
The Final Push: Wrapping Up the Event
On the last day, work together with your fellow volunteers to wrap up any remaining tasks and ensure a smooth conclusion to the event. This may include packing up equipment, cleaning up the venue, or assisting with attendee departures.
Volunteering Appreciation and Recognition
After the event, take a moment to recognize and celebrate the hard work and dedication of your fellow volunteers. Many events offer tokens of appreciation or certificates to acknowledge the efforts of their volunteers.
Lessons Learned and Skills Gained
As you reflect on your experience as a DefCon and BSides Las Vegas volunteer, consider the skills you've gained, the knowledge you've acquired, and the connections you've made. Use these valuable assets to continue growing in your cyber security career.
Saying Farewell to New Friends
As the events come to a close, bid farewell to your new friends and connections. Keep in touch with your fellow volunteers and continue to grow your network within the cyber security community.