How to Leverage Volunteer Opportunities: Takeaways from Tribeca Film Festival

Sebastian Rea is a lucky hardworking guy. After starting out as a volunteer for the Tribeca Film Festival, he was able to intern there two years in a row, which later helped him land a job with the organization immediately upon graduation in 2011.

From Intern to Hire

Though it wasn’t pure luck that actually helped him secure the gig. In fact, Sebastian had to be a little strategic, “While I was volunteering at the Tribeca Film Festival I hounded staff members and begged to be put on the list to get into parties in order to network. My supervisor was nice enough, and I ended up being the only volunteer at events with staff – but that got my foot in the door and I made the connection to get the internship.”

(Protip: Aside from business cards, Sebastian urges all interns or volunteers to carry breath mints as a part of their survival kits. Whether you get into parties or not, mints are a good thing to have on hand.)

Greater than using an internship as a path to get a job, Sebastian is luckier to be on the path of his passion. “I love everything about working for Tribeca Film Festival. It never feels like work no matter how ‘stressful’ it can get.”

NY Creative Interns Sebastian Rea

Two members of the NY Creative interns team, Olivia Ramirez and Erica Mann, were as lucky as Sebastian and recently volunteered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Below are their tips and takeaways for a rewarding experience.

Prepare for Screenings

Arrive on time to your screening. There is nothing worse then arriving five minutes before your screening starts and seeing that most of the seats are full. Arrive to your screening at least 30 minutes prior. Screenings tend to fill up very quickly.

Since there are a number of screening venues to choose from, doing a little research on each of these venues ahead of time can really pay off. Knowing which venue you like best can save you time in making the most of your experience and can also help you to establish “your spot.” Working at the same location for all of your shifts will prevent you from being just another floating face. You will get to know your co-volunteers and staff members, and you might even get the chance to rise up to an opportunity. Think about it; if you’re familiar with the venue and the daily screenings routine, you could be the first face that comes to mind in case anything comes up.

Stay Informed

Keep abreast of emails. The Tribeca Film Festival coordinators are very good about keeping their volunteers in the loop about all things happening during the festival. If you are assigned to a crew position make sure you read the emails. They are usually very important and will apply to you, one way or another.

Also don’t make the mistake of passing around your resume. The Tribeca Film Festival is a relaxing atmosphere for everyone and marketing yourself will get you nowhere. Resist the temptation to walk up to an actor, director, producer, etc. and give them your headshot, demo or reel. Remember: be cool.

Stay Connected

Interact with fellow volunteers. Many of the people volunteering for the Tribeca Film Festival are usually aspiring actors, filmmakers, and simply film enthusiasts. It’s a great way to network and meet new people.

Small talk is nice, but establishing long-term acquaintances, or even friends and business partners, is even better. Exchange names, numbers, and business cards. Even if you think you will never meet again, leave the option open. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to remember the names of your fellow volunteers come time for the crew party.

Throw social media into the mix. Make sure you use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to check in and share your experiences at the festival. It’s a great way to connect with other festival goers and share your thoughts on the screenings you attend. As we always say, stay classy.

Enjoy the Perks

You might not be getting paid, but there are a lot of amazing benefits in exchange for setting aside three days to help out at the festival. Not only do you get a bunch of little perks like fun goodies, delicious treats, and interesting conversation, you also have access to a number of screenings, film seminars and other cool events. Complete your work hours as early as possible so that you can make sure to get the tickets you want before they sell out.

Clearly, the Tribeca Film Festival is one of the most exciting events to be a volunteer. Leverage and enjoy the opportunity with these great tips, and if film is your passion take it from Sebastian – follow it relentlessly.

Read the following for more information on turning a film internship into a career.

What’s been your most exciting volunteer or internship experience?

About the Author

Judi was the mentor of NY Creative Intern Tushar Khandelwal in 2011. She is currently available for work in all areas of digital marketing, and her passion is the arts. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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