Volunteering at the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo can be a truly rewarding experience! With the conference only a week away, some of you may be wondering if volunteering is right for you. In this post, I hope to motivate those of you who are on the fence to commit.

Please kind in mind that the deadline to sign up online is Friday, May 26, which is coming up soon! Otherwise, you will need to stop by the Local Arrangements Team (LAT) office in Room 153A at the Los Angeles Convention Center to sign up. For those who have already committed, below you will find some helpful tips to make the most of your volunteering experience.

Benefits of Volunteering

  • Creating a Welcoming Space
    As volunteers, you have the ability to set the tone of the conference. Enthusiastic volunteers create a welcoming environment for conference attendees through the service and help they provide.
  • Networking
    Volunteers work closely with the NAFSA Local Arrangements Team (LAT), and NAFSA staff in some occasions. Within their volunteer cohort, individuals will meet professionals in the field, dedicated students, and allies of the international education community. In addition, volunteers meet conference attendees through the service they provide.
  • Conference Reimbursement
    Volunteers are rewarded generously for their hours of work. NAFSA will reimburse fees in proportion to the number of volunteer hours completed. Learn more about volunteering at NAFSA 2017.


  • Enthusiasm
    The ideal volunteer is excited to be at the conference!
  • Dedication
    Volunteering at the conference is designed to be a mutually beneficial experience. In addition to the compensation, volunteers gain experience in conference operations and have the opportunity to network. In turn, volunteers are expected to be on time to their shift, be engaged in the work at hand, and fulfill their time commitment in order to receive the generous reimbursement. As such, the Local Arrangements Team will only sign off on hours served true to the volunteer spirit. It truly is a great deal!


  • How To
    Willing volunteers need to sign up in the NAFSA Shiftboard volunteer schedule system. Please note that you must have registered for the conference beforehand. The sooner you create an account on Shiftboard, the more likely you will obtain your role(s) of choice. For NAFSA’s instructions and description of volunteering opportunities, visit their volunteering information page.
  • Description of Roles
    Complete shift details can be found by logging in to the NAFSA Shiftboard volunteer scheduling system. I have compiled the description of roles here for your convenience.
    • Registration: Volunteers will assist pre-registered attendees with conference materials and totebag distribution. Will require being on feet for much of shift.
    • Exhibitor registration: Volunteers will work beside NAFSA staff to assist Global Partners and exhibitors pick up their registration materials.
    • Conference information and hospitality: Volunteers will assist with all general questions attendees bring to the conference information booth, ranging from conference questions to Los Angeles information. There will be a good deal of reference material and brochures available to hand out to attendees. Knowledge of Los Angeles area helpful. Position requires volunteers to be on their feet for majority of shift.
    • Special events: Specific duties may vary according to the event. Generally, volunteers will assist NAFSA staff as needed, to include greeting people and check in; program and materials distribution; room setup; time keeping.
    • Evaluations: Distribution and collection. Volunteers will pick up a packet of evaluation cards and attend a session. They will hand out the cards at the end of the session at the door and count attendance at three points throughout the session. Volunteers will then return the packet of unused cards and room counts to the LAT office. The sessions will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. The shifts can be organized so that you may volunteer for back-to-back sessions.
    • Career Center: Assist with greeting presenters and attendees, and with attendee sign-in.
    • Sessions and open meetings: Exact duties may vary by session or meeting. Generally, volunteers will welcome and direct attendees to discussion tables and distribute materials. Set and reset the room, and take headcount.
    • Room monitor or floating helper: Monitor session rooms for overcrowding. If not needed for room monitoring, volunteers will be placed where needed.
    • Bookstore and plenary book signings: Assist customers in NAFSA Bookstore by answering questions, directing them to products, and assisting with orders. Also will assist staff in restocking shelves and displays. Position requires volunteer to be on their feet for majority of shift. NAFSA staff will provide materials and training prior to first shift.


  • Dress Code
    Volunteers are the face of the NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo. Hence, suggested dress code is business casual attire with comfortable shoes since many shifts require volunteers to be mostly on their feet. I suggest bringing a change of shoes and an extra outfit depending on the day’s agenda.
  • Have Fun
    Enjoy this special opportunity to be at the heart of an important and vitalizing conference! Volunteers bring the conference to life with their enthusiasm so take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn, network, and show off your skills.

Kelly Zuniga is J-1 exchange visitor counselor at the University of California-Los Angeles and the Local Arrangements Team (LAT) communications chair for the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo.