Learning I was selected out of over 600 applicants as a Volunteer for the #2010 HRPA Conference and Trade Show was surreal. Putting on the maroon HRPA Volunteer shirt made it official. As a volunteer, my mandate was to serve the association, its members, as well as the exhibitors and the delegates by answering questions, addressing concerns and greeting visitors with a smile. Sounds like my days at good old Burger King.
I was assigned to volunteer in the Conference Office where fellow Volunteers alike would be required to sign in daily prior to their shift. With limited training, we were thrown in to answer questions, hand out information and sign in Volunteers. It felt like the first day of a new school; a slew of new faces, all unsure of what to expect of them in their assigned role. Some had volunteered in this area last year and knew what to expect. They had already developed cliques. Others new to this area (such as I) took a seat next to a friendly face in an effort to strike up a conversation. For many it was their first time volunteering, and they were armed with many questions most of which even I, a seasoned HRPA Conference Volunteer, could not answer.
To pass time during lulls, the Volunteers would talk about their experiences in the world of HR. Labour relation issues, recruitment trends and even horror stories as a result of the economic downturn. I learned about the hiring process in the public sector (sometimes it is who you know), dealing with employee leaves in a strategic manner (mat leaves can be a God send in a slow economy), and how to put up with a difficult coworker (or in this case Boss) without compromising your integrity. Even though we only just met, we took solace in the fact we understood where each other were coming from. We were not alone. As a result, our shifts flew by and before we knew it we were done for the day.
After I put in my volunteer hours, it was my time to expand my horizons and soak in as much information as humanly possible. Attempting to sit in on as many sessions as possible (space permitting as host rules apply), and making time to stroll through the Trade Show with minimal disruptions (after all I was still sporting my volunteer gear) all while Twittering, proved to be a challenge. There were just not enough hours in a day. This was when my exceptional multitasking skills came into play. I was able volunteer, play the delegate and listen to interesting speakers, all while tweeting away with the infamous #hrpa2010 hashtag (look for me next year at www.armorpeoplelink.com/talentfindr ). I even found time to reconnect with former colleagues. I have to say my experience was an overall success!
Volunteering at the #HRPA 2010 Trade Show and Conference blessed me with the opportunity to interact with fellow HR professionals. Some with 25 years experience, others fresh out of school, some from private organizations, others from the public sector; all having something positive and meaningful to offer. Not only was I able to learn from respected experts, intelligent speakers, and seasoned HR professionals, I walked away with new friends, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of camaraderie. Now the question is when do I sign up for next year?
Follow Sandra @sandragallacher