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Volunteer Information

Volunteers At San Japan

Applications for the 2017 convention will open at the beginning of 2017.

Volunteer FAQ

How do I volunteer? You fill out a volunteer form and then pay $10 by Paypal. Cut-off date is July 25th, 2016. We will NOT be accepting any general volunteers after that. No exceptions will be made (so don't be late). We do not accept walk-ups.

Starting in 2016 we are no longer accepting mail-in checks.
What are the benefits of being a General Volunteer? You receive the following benefits as a general volunteer:
  • A volunteer badge that gives you access to all places like a regular attendee.
  • Access to our convention suite for snacks and drinks (no longer prepping/serving hot meals due to health code concerns).
  • Crash space allocated for non-local volunteers.
  • Once you've complete your required volunteer hours, General Volunteers receive a $20 vouchers (2x$10.00 vouchers) to spend in the convention. Vouchers are issued on Sunday.
  • ONE food voucher for $5 at a nearby eatery.
Why do I have to pay to volunteer? San Japan implemented this kind of volunteer system which we feel works great for our convention. This system is to get volunteers who want to put in the long hours that we need from our volunteers. At our first convention in 2008 we had a TON of signups and a lot of no-shows or early bailouts. At other conventions we have observed that this tends to be the case. This system will ensure that everyone who volunteers for San Japan has an initiative to work the long hours that we need from our volunteers at San Japan. Here's how this system will work:
  • Pay $10 ahead of time to fill out an application.
  • By August 1st, 2016 (or sooner), we will be e-mailing everyone if they have been accepted. If you fill out an application, your chances are 98+% that you will be accepted as we will need at least 400-500 volunteers over the course of the convention.
  • After you worked 12 hours over a minimum of 2 days, 6 hours minimum a day, you will get a voucher for $20 that can be spent in the dealer's room or artist alley. This voucher is non-refundable as it must be redeemed at San Japan on that day. If you are in crash space then you will be required to work a minimum of 8 hours a day as you will be expected to work 21 hours total over 3 days or 27 hours over a course of 4 days.
Where do I go to check-in as a volunteer? Who do I speak with?

When you arrive at San Japan, head over to Room 206 in the HENRY B. GONZALEZ Convention Center. When you arrive at this room the HR Department will be able to help you out. When checked in they will help to direct you to your department head.

Is there anyway an exception can be made to not have to pay the $10? No, the $10 fee to apply as a general volunteer is required and non-negotiable for general volunteers. No exceptions will be made. There is no fee if you come on-board San Japan as a RANGER (formally Staff Volunteers).
Can I just pay the $10 fee at the convention? No, you can not. We require the $10 ahead of time so that we know how many badges to print. We also need to know how many rooms to set aside for crash space when we go through all the applications. We can not take any walk-ups and all applications that fail to pay the $10 by July 25th, 2016 (Paypal only). If you arrive at the convention in attempt to pay the application fee person then you will be turned away.
I'm not accepted as a volunteer after filling out the application, do I get my money back? Yes, you will get a full refund if you are declined.
Is filling out the form on the volunteer application the only way I can register to volunteer for San Japan? For General Volunteer Registration, this is the only way to volunteer. Read below if you have already made arrangements with a staff head to help out San Japan. RANGERS (Staff) Volunteers do get a few extra perks.
I volunteered for previous San Japan conventions, do I still have to pay? Yes. If you have been directly recruited to work under a department then you will be directed to the staff volunteer page for sign-up to be renamed as RANGERS, which does not require an application fee as you are working for that department. There are additional perks to being part of the RANGERS staff are listed further down the FAQ. However if you wish to remain a general volunteer you still have to pay the sign-up fee.
I already talked with a staff department head and he/she said I can work for their department this year. Do I still have to pay ahead? No. If you arrange it with the staff department head then you can still volunteer but you will need to arrange it with that particular department. Also know that you will be consider a RANGER (Staff volunteer) and a voucher will not be issued to you.
I can't pay for a volunteer fee by Paypal/Credit Card. Can I pay for it by check/cash/money order? You will need to attend a San Japan promotion to pay by cash and we will take your information. Due too many issues in the past we are no longer accepting payment by mail or check. We are switching to Paypal only for online applications.
I'm not sure about pre-registering, how will I know I was accepted as a volunteer? We will inform you immediately if you are rejected. If you hear nothing then 98% chance you have been accepted as a volunteer. We absolutely need as many people as possible to help us out. However, if you do not send in payment to volunteer then you will not be accepted. Don't procrastinate!
If I do pay to volunteer but change my mind and just want to fill out a pre-registration, do I get a refund? Yes, we will give you a refund on your volunteer payment so you can put it toward a pre-registration. You must contact us before volunteer registration ends. There will be no refunds if you change your mind after volunteer registration ends and volunteer assignments have been sent out.
I completed my 12 hours in one day, do I get a voucher form that day?

No, you must work your volunteer hours over 2 days period. Vouchers are always issued on Sunday of the convention. We will no longer issue vouchers prior to Sunday of the convention for any reason.

Even if you work 12 hours in one day, you will need to work a few more hours on another day to get a $20 voucher. This is to encourage people to work for us for the duration of the convention and not just work one day then 'disappear' after that. We will be handing out dealer vouchers on Sunday of the convention. We do not hand them out before Sunday.

Does working on Thursday, prior to the beginning of the convention, go toward my required 12 hours? It does not count if you are only working towards 12 hours. It will count if you have crash space as you will be required to fulfill 21-27 hours. If you are a crash space volunteer you will be required to work at least 6 hours on Thursday. We do track Volunteers hours.
When I receive my voucher, can I redeem it at multiple dealers? Yes you will. You will be issued two vouchers which will allow you to buy from multiple tables. The voucher must be spent in full as no change will be given. You may spend both vouchers at one dealer.
Is there a minimum age you must be in order to volunteer for San Japan? YES, all volunteers need to be seventeen (17) or older at the time of the convention. HOWEVER, in order to receive crash space you must be at least 18 years old. We are not taking any one under the age of 17 anymore for legal liability. We are not allowing parents to give us authorization to let their child who is under 18 to have crash space for San Japan.

If you are 16 now but you will be the 17 at the beginning of San Japan then you may apply to be a volunteer.

The only exception will be if you've been personally recruited by one of our staff heads which in that case that staff member will be your responsibility and not under the responsibility of the volunteer department.

We will be requiring general volunteers to show proof of being 17 at the start of San Japan due to prior volunteer applicants who have not been honest about their age.
What about volunteer crash space? General volunteer crash space at our host hotels (Grand Hyatt and Marriott Riverwalk) will only be given to people who do not live in the San Antonio Area (must be at minimum 30 miles from the Convention). We are no longer allocating crash space at the hotel for locals. All rooms are separated by gender. You must be at least 18 years old to be given crash space for legal liability reasons. All rooms will be assigned a Room Leader who will be checking in with the Volunteer Department for the duration of the convention.
Can I volunteer & cosplay at the same time? Cosplaying while volunteering for San Japan is allowed as long as the costume does not interfere with your duties in helping San Japan and approved by the department head. If it is noticed that your cosplay is interfering from your duties then you may be asked to change out until your shift has been completed. However, this does not apply to the Safety department as you will be required to wear a safety shirt. If you are assigned to Logistics, Events or Safety department as you will be asked to wear normal clothes.
If I sign up to volunteer, do I have to also pre-register? No, you do not have to pay to pre-register if you sign up to volunteer and you're accepted as a volunteer.
What positions are available to volunteer at San Japan? Here is a list of the positions that will be available:
  • Artist Alley Helper
  • Art Show Helper
  • Convention Suite (ConSuite/Snack Suite) Helper
  • Craft Room Helper
  • Asset Control Helper (ConOps)
  • Dealer Room Helper
  • Programming Helper
  • Info Desk Helper
  • Lines & Signs Helper
  • Load-In/Load-Out Helper
  • Main Stage Helper
  • Merch Helper
  • Registration Helper (NON-Cash Handling Position)
  • Event Safety Volunteer
  • TechOp Volunteer / Setup
  • Video Rooms Helper

All Game Room, Maid Cafe and Guest Relation positions are personally recruited by the department head. They do not accept outside general volunteer applications. Details about each position is listed in the volunteer application.
Is it possible to volunteer for the Maid Cafe?

The Maid Cafe is the most popular department that people want to join. There are no open positions for the Maid Cafe for General Volunteers. The maid cafe applications are opened in the Fall and selected from applicants.

You can add them on Facebook at where they'll announce about the applications. We receive frequent inquiries on how to be a maid which you will be required to be vetted in as a helper by that department before being offered a maid position.

I'd rather be on San Japan Staff, are there any available positions there? We can always use some extra staff members. If you have advanced technical skills in Audio/Visual, willing to help out in Events setup, want to help keep our volunteers happy or you have exceptional organizational skills, or have a skill that would be highly beneficial to San Japan then we'd like to hear from you. Just check out our Open Staff Positions. You can use the form on the page to submit an inquiry to join the staff.
I signed up and I haven't heard anything for a while, what's going on? Unless you heard back from the volunteer coordinator saying there's something wrong with your volunteer application, you don't have anything to worry about. We contact all of our volunteers after July 25th, 2016 with confirmation of status. Then you will be contacted a second time with their position assignments and other information. If you have any concerns then e-mail
Does San Japan cover any transportation costs, expenses or parking? No, we do not. You are on your own to get to San Japan and you will have to cover your own parking charges.
I have completed my hours by Saturday evening, is my volunteer badge still valid? Your volunteer badge is valid for all three days of the convention.
The volunteer deadline already passed, are you taking any additional volunteers? No. After July 25th, 2016 (if paid by Paypal) we are not taking any additional volunteers. If you e-mail asking us to make an exception, the answer will be no.
I still don't quite get it as to why I have to pay to volunteer?

One common problem that we had at our first San Japan and has happened at other similar fan conventions who allow people to just sign-up for free is there is a very large amount of no-shows. No-Shows hurt the convention as other volunteers and staffers then have to cover for shifts which were already assigned.

To counter this issue, some conventions ask you to pay for a full badge ahead of time then when you do show up which you have to work all of your required 18- 30 hours to receive a refund with very little other incentives included. We don't feel that is quite fair to put the burden on the volunteer to pay up ahead of time.

All you need to do is put up $10 which we consider a 'good-faith' payment and after you've put in your 12 hours of work you get back a $20 dealer voucher. We found this to work well as our volunteers tend to work for the convention instead of seeing it as a way to get a free badge without making a concerted effort.

Also, if you work 8+ hours a day (if you're out-of-town) you get crash space at the convention. We don't cram our volunteer crash spaces like similar conventions which some are notoriously known for putting 10+ people in a room. We will keep a constant supply of snacks available for general volunteers however we will no longer be providing meals. We do have a lot of returning volunteers who come back every year to help us out.

We try to make sure our volunteers are in good spirits for the duration of the convention. We believe that volunteers who are in good spirits do ensure that our attendees have a good time too. If you have any grievances then please inform the HR department who will take care of you.

What is the difference between a RANGER and a GENERAL volunteer

A RANGER (Staff) volunteer is a volunteer who was recruited or asked to help out a department. They are generally arranged by the department head/coordinator. They have additional benefits including guaranteed hotel space arrangements, receive a free t-shirt and access to a special invite-only after-con event held on Sunday evening. They are expected to work much longer hours than General Volunteers.

GENERAL volunteers sign-up through the San Japan website. RANGERS are given a private link to sign-up.

The big difference is that GENERAL volunteers receive a voucher for their work. RANGER volunteers do not get a voucher but RANGERS receive guaranteed crash space (even if local, unlike general volunteers), larger food vouchers, a t-shirt, some catered food if working for a very large department, and access to a after-con event in appreciate of their hard work .

If you would like to work directly with the convention or a department as a RANGER for future conventions then we suggest staying in touch with a department head or director. We always looking for a few good people to help make San Japan a great convention. If you need to get in touch with a department head we will get you in touch with our HR department.

When looking over the application what are some things you'll be looking at?

When we review the application we will be looking to see if you've applied at prior conventions, what departments you’ve helped, your qualifications if you've applied for a department that needs technical skills, and if you have Customer Service skills.

We are putting a larger focus on volunteers who have Customer Service and can handle the STRESS of being a volunteer. We want to ensure that our volunteers on the floor are friendly to our regular attendees. If this sounds a bit much, don't be discouraged as we will have all kinds of positions to choose from as we need plenty of volunteers to help in the background.

Can I use the voucher in the Artist Alley? Yes, we will allow volunteers to use the voucher in the dealer room, artist alley or at our merch booth starting on Sunday morning when the vouchers are distributed.
Why the sudden change in policy to start allowing 17 and up volunteers? You use to only accept 18 and up.

The change is due to our rapid growth. San Japan has eclipsed over 18,000 total attendees as of 2015. We need as many willing and able volunteers to help out in many aspects of San Japan. It was decided to loosen some of our rules to see if we can find more willing volunteers to continue to help make San Japan a great convention. We are still enacting the rule that you must be at least 18 years old at the beginning of San Japan to receive hotel crash space.

I want to help on Thursday of the convention during setup. What should I do?

Be sure to arrive at San Japan by around 11am to help with setup. The assigned Volunteer Coordinator will get you checked-in. (TENTATIVE LOCATION: Room 206, HBG Convention Center)

We will have a limited amount of crash space set aside for those who arrive on Thursday but you will be required to work at minimum of 6 hours on Thursday and 27 hours over the duration of San Japan Thursday - Sunday with at least 8 hours a day on Friday and Saturday.

All General Volunteers MUST inform us 2 weeks ahead of time that they plan to arrive on Thursday of the convention. Do not presume that crash space will be available on Thursday.

I keep seeing the phrase 'crash space'. What does that mean? Crash space is a common phrase amongst convention attendees for 'space in a shared hotel room amongst other patrons'.
I'm still a bit confused on your volunteer processes. Do I have to pre-register or purchase a badge in order to volunteer at San Japan? No, you do not any shape or form need to purchase a convention badge in order to volunteer at San Japan if you are accepted as a general volunteer.

There will still be an application fee to apply to be a volunteer. If you have any additional questions, please go to the Official Facebook Group.
Please be truthful about your age when applying as in order to receive a volunteer badge you will need to show ID. If you are not honest about your age then your volunteer badge will be immediately revoked, you will be removed from crash space and we will ask you to leave the convention unless you purchase a regular attendee badge (yes, this has happened).


General Rules



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