I've merged the above post from its own thread into this one to answer these questions:
So my foremost question is this: what are the various jobs that volunteers do?
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of departments at NDK and there's no single answer to this question.
Do you have many tasks that require technical expertise? (I'm a computer consultant/programmer by profession)
Not a lot. We have a website, of course, and we have a team that handles just that. Given the nature of the site, however, that's not really something we'd offer to Volunteers. (Once someone has proven themselves and become a Staff member, however...) Only a few of us actually use our direct professional experience in our positions at NDK. Even so, if you apply to be a volunteer, be sure to mention any such skills and we'll see if we can put them to use.
Most of the actual technical concerns at NDK are A/V-related. Most of what we need to do doesn't need a high-tech approach, which isn't a bad thing as we see it... make things too technical and it's harder for new people to jump in when needed. Not everyone on NDK staff is technically-oriented and because NDK only lasts a weekend, we don't have time to train people to use complex systems or applications.
That said, there are a couple of departments where we've been introducing some more advanced, special-purpose systems... but those are mostly used by the department heads to help manage data that comes in from various sources. Volunteers wouldn't be working with (or on) these.
What is the minimum/maximum time you request out of your volunteers?
No minimum, no maximum. You can work as much or as little as you want. We give away some thank-you gifts if you hit certain milestones in the amount of time worked (at 4, 8, and 16 hours, I think), but we don't require that anyone work any particular amount of time.
When does volunteering start - days, weeks before the con?
How much longer after the con do you still need volunteers?
For Volunteers, it's always at the con itself.
We have two ranks of volunteers: Volunteers (with a capital "V") and Staff. (There's also a rank system within Staff, but that's not important at the moment.)
Volunteers are generally new to helping out with the convention and put in a variable amount of time toward helping out with the con. They're generally assigned to one or more departments over the course of the convention to help out with whatever needs doing or, if someone has some specialized skills, where they'd be the most useful. We do ask people where they want to work, though, and will try to assign them to the departments they're interested in if we can.
If a Volunteer works hard and does a good job and puts in at least 16 hours during the weekend, we may promote them to Staff. Being Staff means more responsibilities--an expectation of working at least 16 hours during the convention--and more perks. It also means an additional level of trust. Because people have to prove themselves in order to be promoted to Staff, we trust that they'll be responsible and handle whatever we might throw their way. Staffers are assigned to particular departments, so they tend to be more specialized than volunteers.
Some Staff members also have responsibilities that extend outside the convention itself.