My experience volunteering at UX London and why you should volunteer

The exposure you get as a volunteer at UX London is incredibly valuable. I’m going to take you through my experience and why you’ll love it too.

My experience

After an initial meet-up to tour the Laban Theatre and many well organised emails, the day comes when you arrive as a volunteer. The 16-page guide may seem daunting at first, but 30 minutes into the first day that goes out the window and you’re navigating your way through the building like an orienteering champion.

Our daily morning pow-wow- 7am 😱

The first impression (and lasting impression) is volunteers are super friendly, and you can tell everyone’s: here to learn, energetic and excited. One lady (Jen) even flew all the way from LA. Not to attend, to volunteer.

If you’re worried about missing your favourite talks, Kate & Alis (organisers of UX London) manage the rota so you get to attend as many of your first choice talks as possible. I think I only missed a couple talks in the whole conference.

I was helping Rowena, Clearleft’s Marketing Manager, aiding the film crew and rounding up speakers for interviews. This meant rushing around and waiting back-stage but it gave me great access to things you wouldn’t have as a delegate.

Had a lovely chat with Scott Belsky about his 99U book series, they are a lot of work apparently

Every day you’re surrounded by like minded volunteers and delegates. You have deep conversations about the future of UX but more importantly you have an absolute laugh and possibly a beer or ten (brewed by the event’s organiser, Clearleft)

Why you should volunteer

Finger on the pulse in UX

You’ll learn how companies like Uber, Intercom, Adaptive Path, Google & Nike tackle UX design. Talks and workshops are curated by Clearleft’s Creative Director, James Bates, with a different subject each day.

Access to speakers

Speakers are always lurking around in the greenroom or backstage, which as a volunteer, you can pop in and chat to your ‘UX hero’. I had a great chat with 99U’s Scott Belsky and got public speaking tips from Barry O’Reilly.

Amazing food!

UX London feels like a three day festival rather than a conference. The theme is enforced with delicious street food from the people at KERB.

Yummy street food from KERB

A collective of like-minded individuals

Every volunteer is either involved or interested in UX. It’s an opportunity to talk about your experiences, challenges and successes as a designer or just get tips on how to get your foot through the door.

Workshops help you put ideas into practise

The afternoons are for workshops, usually aimed at applying learnings from the morning talks. Volunteers help set-up but they also get to participate in their three hour workshop each day.

Job opportunities

Additionally to the jobs board and recruitment sponsors, anyone at the conference has the ability to wear a badge saying either: “I’m a freelancer”,”I’m hiring” or “Looking for a job”.

Warning: you may meet your doppelgänger

Am I on the left or the right? My mum couldn’t tell

In conclusion, I left the conference with sorrow in my heart, as I had to wait another year for such a pleasurable experience. It was an incredible conference and the insight I gained will influence my thinking/designing for years to come. Maybe I’ll see you next year?