Each year more than 150 volunteers contribute specialized and general support to help ONA pull off one of the industry’s premier events. We’re producing a series to celebrate some of our amazing conference volunteers, who bring the ONA spirit to life in a number of crucial roles. Say hello when you see them at the conference!
Number of years volunteering with ONA?
Lindsay: 6 years.
What’s your volunteer role at ONA19?
LaPorsche: Bag stuffing and conference setup.
Lindsay: Unconference and Lightning Talks Chair.
Rick: I am a speaker sherpa.
What’s your favorite memory as a volunteer?
LaPorsche: I enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people that I still speak with today. I gained a rockstar mentor from the conference that plays an active role in my career.
Lindsay: Visiting the Newseum in D.C. [at ONA17] reminded me why I became a journalist. As journalists, we are literally documenting history every day.
Rick: Chaperoning Cookie Monster, Elmo and Abby Cadabby to their panel [at ONA14].
How has volunteering impacted you?
LaPorsche: I went to the conference with a job in market 126 and I basically left with a job offer from the Tegna NBC affiliate in Atlanta (market 10). My digital leaders — Director Phillip Kish and Editor Kristen Reed — have taught me so much and push me to be better and learn more every day. I’ve also been able to create my own creative on-camera digital content, which led to more than 700,000 views for one segment on the Central Park Five. Plus, I’m working on a new project that I am so excited to share. Not to mention, I am also learning a ton about analytics. It’s safe to say the conference had a positive, and huge, impact on my career.
Lindsay: I love it because I feel more involved, as opposed to a bystander.
Rick: It’s enabled me to give back to an organization that has given me much — and allowed me to meet a wide range of interesting people.
What’s your best advice for a new volunteer?
LaPorsche: Talk to everyone. You should be exhausted at the end of the day from talking so much. I would’ve never guessed I was talking to my new boss… but I was, and it paid off in more ways than one.
Lindsay: Take ownership of your conference experience. Engage where you can. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t. Want a job? Ask! Want to learn something new? Get an email.
Rick: This is a great opportunity to network outside your discipline. And the person you meet today could be your boss, peer or colleague next week. Meet people and learn what they are about.