via SXSW Volunteer Central

Why You Should Volunteer at SXSW

By Megan Menchaca

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Every year, South by Southwest, or SXSW hosts hundreds of movie premieres and concerts for badge holders during UT Austin’s spring break. But even though the festival offers students a badge for the discounted price of $313, badges are still out of the price range for many UT students. For students who aren’t willing to pay that much to attend official events, volunteering for South by Southwest will also get you a badge, but for a much cheaper price — zero dollars.


To earn a badge, SXSW volunteers must volunteer for at least 48 hours, either in four 12-hour shifts or six eight-hour shifts. I know that sounds like a lot of time (and it is), but volunteering for the conference is definitely worth the hours. It’s an incredibly enjoyable experience and practically as fun as actually attending the festival events themselves. While there are still a ton of free events to attend if you don’t have a badge, volunteering is definitely the best way to get access to everything happening in downtown Austin during spring break. Here are three of the many reasons why:




Reason #1 – You’ll Get to Meet Incredible People


South by Southwest is probably known most for the insane crowds and all of the celebrities who come to Austin, and depending on what venue you volunteer at, you’ll almost certainly get to experience both. As a volunteer, I not only got to meet people like Barry Jenkins, Connie Britton, Rian Johnson, and Lena Dunham, but I also made so many great relationships with other volunteers while I was working. At South by Southwest, you’ll be uniquely exposed to thousands of people every day, and as a volunteer you’ll get to have an impact on all of their lives.




Reason #2 – You’ll Get Free Food Everyday


This year, volunteers recieved free meals from 12 different restaurants, from food trucks to pizza joints, for their efforts. Depending on whether they worked for eight hours for six days or for 12 hours for four days, volunteers earned six to eight free meals during the week. And so, with all of the other free food served at the other various South by Southwest parties and unofficial events, it’s really not that difficult to spend the entire week without spending money on food at all. For many college students, this is probably reason enough to go.



Reason #3 – You’ll Get to Experience All of the SXSW Events


Many students stay in Austin just to experience the atmosphere of South by Southwest, especially because it’s so easy to fill just to fill a whole week’s calendar with unofficial and free events. But if you really want to experience the entirety of the festival, you’re definitely going to want a badge, especially because many of the official events will fill up incredibly quickly. While volunteers don’t get any extra access from those who purchased badges, you’ll be part of the exclusive group of people who will get primary access into all of the venues without paying a single cent.


Volunteering at South by Southwest definitely isn’t for everyone. It requires you to sacrifice the precious days of your spring break and necessitates a significant of dedication and perseverance. But after spending the past week as a SXSW volunteer, I can assure you that it is worth it. When making your spring break plans next year, I strongly recommend that you consider signing up to volunteer.