Olympic Volunteering – Part1

I always planned to blog about some of my London2012 Olympic volunteering experiences, but knew it would take me ages to get around to it. So, rather than keep putting it off, I’m going to split it into three parts and get the ball rolling straight away:

  1. I’ll start with the most common question I was asked – “How and why did I decide to get involved with the London2012 Olympics?
  2. The second most common question I’ve been asked is – “What did you actually have to do as volunteer in the technology team?
  3. Now that my volunteering responsibilities have finished, people ask – “Was it worth it? Would you do it again?

How and why did I decide to get involved with the London2012 Olypmics?

I signed up to a ticket application newsletter back in early 2010, just to keep up to date with news on the Olympic ticket application process and schedule etc. I was keen to try and get tickets for myself and my extended family for any event, I didn’t care what! Ideally, I’d like to see some rowing at Eton Dorney because my wife was a very keen and successful cox in her formative years, plus it’s only a couple of miles from where I grew up and where my parents still live. Excavation began on the rowing lake when I was at secondary school, so as you can imagine we based a lot of our geography projects on it at the time! I thought it would be pretty special to see something so close to home being used for Olympic events many years on.

Anyway, because I was signed up to this newsletter I received an email invitation from Lord Coe in April 2010 to apply to become a Games Maker; he said 70,000 volunteers would be required to help support the Games. After limited success in the initial ticket ballots I suspected I might struggle with getting to see any Olympic action, but I knew that being part of an Olympic Games in my home town would be literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So if possible, I wanted the chance to experience it both from behind the scenes if I couldn’t be in the stands like everyone else. Being a Games Maker looked like a good way in, and at the time I had a gut-feeling that it might be fun too.

A waiting game

So much time had passed that I forgot that I’d actually applied for a volunteer role until I was reminded 18 months later, in November 2011,  when out of the blue I received an email was offering me an interview to become a Games Maker. I immediately logged on and used the scheduling tool to book myself a slot at a Selection Event at London Excel on 16th December.

There was no real preparation required for the interview. I had applied for a role in the Technology Team, so I hoped that my day job as a Accenture Senior Technical Architect would qualify me! Apparently the process was simple, I just had to be there on the day and show proof of my identity. If I passed it, I would be put on a waiting list where I could get cherry-picked for a role by one of the full-time Games Maker staff. My interviewer was also a volunteer, so once she’d ticked all the relevant HR-type boxes she was happy just talk about why I wanted to volunteer. I mentioned my avid interest in sport and my tenuous history with the rowing lake, but this point I’d become a father for the first time so I also explained how when she grew up, I’d like to be able to tell my daughter about how I helped with staging The Greatest Show on Earth

More waiting (but a silver lining)

I waited to hear back for the Games Maker recruitment team for a long time, but I had no response. It’s no wonder, over 240,000 people had been through the recruitment process – that’s impressive even by Accenture’s recruiting standards! But, whilst on holiday in June 2012 I received an email thanking me for my patience and offering me the chance to enter a ballot to win a ticket to one of the technical rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony. I couldn’t believe my luck! I didn’t care whether I’d actually get offered a Games Maker role if I at least got the chance to visit the Olympic Stadium, so I entered the ballot straight away.

Still more waiting.

Seven months after my interview, I was offered a Games Maker role in the Venue Technology Team for the Aquatics Centre. This offer came just three weeks before the Games were due to begin so I presumed there must have been some last minute volunteer drop outs, but I didn’t care, again I accepted straight away.

… and the silver lining? I won a ticket to the Opening Ceremony rehearsal!

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