How to Apply for Conference Staff

by Sarah Lambino on January 29, 2009

Sarah was UNA-USA's Conference Planner and Technology Coordinator

Some people win “Best Delegate.” Me? I hire them.

As a conference organizer at UNA-USA, it’s my job to hire 200+ college and high school students for the 13 conferences we hold around the country. In this post, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned about what separates a good conference from a bad conference: the people who run them.

Think for a moment about some of the conferences you’ve attended and what made them memorable. More often than not, it had something to do with someone on the conference staff. It might just be a really cool Chair who was laidback but knew how to keep decorum. Perhaps it was the Secretary-General who handled a problem you had with a committee room. Or maybe it was that Rapporteur who misspelled Thailand as “Tieland.”

A conference succeeds or fails on the quality of its staff. So how do you select the best staff? Many conferences use an application.

Model UN applications contain similar questions. Below are the three main areas conference organizers are looking at in an applicant.

1. Model UN Experience

Conferences attended and staffed, committees you’ve participated in, awards won. If you’re starting out, definitely keep track of the different committees you’ve participated in as a delegate. It will save you a good 15 minutes when you’re trying to remember what committee you were on when you got the best position paper award in your junior–no, wait, senior–year of high school. I think it was Berkeley Model UN 2003, ECOFIN, Syrian Arab Republic…

2. Communication Skills

Basic writing and public speaking skills. As a Model UNer–and BestDelegate.com reader–you should know that strong communication is key to being successful in committee as a delegate. But as a potential staffer, your focus changes from “How do I win over X delegate?” to “How do I manage all the delegates?” Some conferences also require you to write background guides if you are selected to be on staff. And if you’re looking to be a chair, speaking skills will be a major factor.

3. Interest in Model UN and the Conference

What do you know about the conference and why do you want to be a part of it? Use your niche conference research skills and show off how you intend to contribute. These questions usually come in many forms. “What did you like about this conference and what would you change?” also means “Do you know what we’re about?” Another similar question: “We know what are strengths and weaknesses are. What do you think they are?” Questions that ask you to describe a particular situation are tests to see if you can follow procedure and have the common sense to handle difficult circumstances.

The information I just described is pretty standard for any hiring process, but don’t forget that this hiring process is also a way for you to get to know the conference, too. Does the hiring process seem too lengthy? Are there too many redundancies in the forms and questions? Or perhaps the event organizers are not answering your questions? You can begin to manage your expectations of conference staffing through the application process.

Remember: like being a best delegate, there is no definitive guide for being the best conference staffing applicant. Every conference, every conference organizer, every organization differs in their goals and values for what makes a successful Model UN staffer.

Best Delegate can help you with staff applications for Global Classrooms and other conferences. Leave your name and email address below to find out more!

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