How volunteering can help kick-start your esports career
Education - 20 Jul 2017
More and more people are looking to secure a career in the increasingly competitive esports industry. Volunteering is a great way of setting yourself apart, getting valuable experience and opening doors.
Ryan McVean looks at some of the UK's volunteering opportunities and what they entail.
The UK esports and gaming events scene has been growing steadily over the years. With Insomnia, epic.LAN, EGX, Gfinity, ESL and others active in the UK, volunteer positions and junior positions in esports are in abundance. Whether you want to be an admin/referee, shoutcaster, in production, coach, content creation/social media or just help out around the event, many of these positions can be filled by volunteers.
British Esports' Dominic Sacco recently asked epic.LAN’s MD Jon Winkle about his event and the value of volunteering.
Jon said: "There are a lot of people who got experience at Epic and then went on to much bigger work, for example [well-known British casters] Pansy and Machine used to cast at Epic to get their experience, even Deman has done epic.LAN casting in the past.
"We are very much about giving people an experience and we don't just throw them in we try to guide them, help them and mentor them a bit as well. We will happily help people with their CV afterwards to get more permanent roles as well. Anyone can apply to epic.LAN whether that's first time casters coming to get their first LAN experience, admins, even just people to help at the meet and greet."
For other areas, like coaching, management and playing in tournaments, experience can be gained from amateur organisations in the UK. Find the game you're interested in and get involved in its scene, talk to other players and orgs and people on social media platforms and networks like Twitter, Facebook and Discord.
There are several who have gone from the amateur scene to securing paid positions in bigger esports leagues, for example there are a handful of coaches and players who started in the UK scene and local leagues before making the leap to the professional scene in games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike.
If you're not sure what exactly you want to do but you know you're interested in esports, volunteering for an event like Epic or Insomnia is something to consider as it might help you figure out what you enjoy doing.
As one the biggest LAN events out there, Insomnia needs a lot of volunteers. Expenses are usually covered, and those who impress can often secure paid work in the future.
Here are some of the roles Insomnia is looking for:
- Networking team - The networking team are in charge of the network infrastructure at the events. They are the ones who keep the servers online for the event.
- Technical Support team - The customer facing team. They are in charge of the help desk throughout the event.
- Community team - This is the team that are in charge of all the activities for attendees of the event. Hosting the social games area and helping out those in the BYOC area
- Esports team - The esports team are the tournament admins who make sure that competitions run smoothly all event long
After volunteering, it's a good idea to check for job openings regularly and apply. At British Esports we have been posting job roundups to help people kick-start their career in esports.
What are the benefits of volunteering?
Volunteering looks amazing on a CV. It shows a potential employer you have taken the initiative to do something for free in order to gain experience, learn and push yourself forward.
For example, event volunteering shows that you can work with crowds, events and technology. Make sure to include what you specialised in during your time there.
Volunteering also opens doors, it allows you to network with people in this industry. Some of whom may even employ you in the future or recommend you to other employers.
Volunteering is simply a great way to progress your career, use your experience and talents gained to look for jobs or senior volunteer positions that you feel you would work great in! Many companies that take on volunteers will be looking through their pool for more permanent hires, so make sure to show them that you would love to be a part of their events more regularly.
'My favourite memory in esports came from volunteering'
Two volunteers share their experiences.
Jack Anderson, a volunteer at the Edinburgh Comic Con's gaming area, offered some insight into his role.
He said: "My second time there I was in charge of the small side event tournaments for games like Pokemon and Marvel vs Capcom.
"My favourite part of the events was always the challenge of keeping everyone on schedule and making sure things ran without any hiccups. One time I had an eight or nine-year-old kid come up to me and ask to drop out since he didn't know that adults would be competing too.
"I looked at his parents and they seemed disheartened that their child wouldn't get to enjoy the event. So I took him over to his setup, reassured him and told him that his first opponent was really nice and that he didn’t have to worry about it!
"Seeing his parents watch him hold his own against people twice his age is still my favourite memory in esports."
Ryan McVean from the British Esports Association explains that taking the initiative and offering to volunteer (rather than waiting for a volunteer position emerging) can also work well.
"Getting started in a big and front-facing industry like esports can be daunting," he said. "I can remember my first time volunteering was at a local fighting game event. I had entered into all of the tournaments I could and was promptly eliminated from them all.
"I started talking with the volunteers that were organizing the pool and found they were short-staffed. I offered to help and started organizing the matches for the rest of the day. It was great! I was helping out and even made some friends along the way.
"Now I do my best to volunteer for as many events as possible so that I can make sure that things run smoothly and everyone gets to have fun."
It's worth noting that friendly, helpful vibe around volunteering shouldn't really end once you've done your volunteering and have secured your first paid job.
Paul "ReDeYe" Chaloner, a popular esports event host and member of our advisory board, recently wrote a Twitlonger post talking about who he is grateful to in esports. He talks about how important connections are and it is definitely worth a read here.
Volunteer for the British Esports Association
We have just held a kids' esports club pilot scheme at Maida Vale library and had four great volunteers sign up to help us across the month.
Harry "DocDa" Evans and Jordan Boyle (above, left to right) and Cameron Peberdey, Harry Buckley and Ryan "Flakes" Oliver (below, left to right) helped out, with Harry Evans and Ryan Oliver helping children learn all about casting.
Harry Buckley said: "I feel through volunteering I am getting an understanding of what it is like to run an initiative like this and also I am really enjoying being a part of the team that will hopefully make the children think about a future in esports, whether that’s playing, casting or being on the media side of things. It feels really good to be part of an initiative that’s hoping to better the future of UK esports and helping to be a part of that.
Jordan added: "I volunteered for this scheme after seeing it advertised on the British Esports Association website. I’m hoping to get into a career in esports and any experience I can get is valuable in the future. As well as helping myself out I think it is important to teach younger kids about esports so that the industry can continue to grow."
The British Esports Association is always on the lookout for enthusiastic volunteers who would like to help out with upcoming events and initiatives.
To find out more or to apply, please email us at email@example.com with details of your background, age and what you'd like to do, and we can send you a form to fill in.
Image source: Multiplay Flickr