Convention Report: AOD 2014

So it was time for me to do my usual career events at AOD – formerly AODSF but it moved to being by the San Francisco Airport, which kind of complicates the whole naming thing.

AOD is an anime con that grew into more of an animation/anime/games convention over the years, and the first one I actually did events for when I moved to the Bay Area. It’s always been well-run and very precise, with some smart placement – putting an anime-and-more con in a Japantown hotel was a stroke of brilliance, for instance.

However, AOD moved to a larger hotel as it was getting pretty large. And that’s where things get interesting. ¬†What happens when you scale up?

The new event was freaking huge. And filled with Homestuck cosplayers, but that’s pretty usual. It’s like the convention expands to fit whatever capacity it’s in. ¬†Hotels are like hard drives sometimes.

It was just as organized as always, and had plenty of things going on. Gaming, viewings, concerts, panels, and more – plus a larger dealer’s room. The convention has really used the new space to do more, and everyone appeared to be having a blast. Everyone was happy.

The staff managed to scale the convention up effectively. That was pretty impressive. I am very much looking forward to 2015 to see what’s next because this was well done as always.

But more that what appears to be a huge onslaught of new attendees and a lot more space, AOD of 2014 had even more professional events than before. Considering how many there were previously, that was pretty impressive.

Of course I was there, because when there’s a con in the Bay Area, I’m probably there making it more boring with job advice. I did three of my usual events – Epic Resume Go, Fan To Pro, and my Fandom Networking. How did that go?

“Crowded” is the first word that comes to mind . . .

Epic Resume Go:

Epic Resume Go is my resume building panel. It’s been a mixed bag at other conventions because I think not everyone expects to get resume building advice when they’re dressed up as cast members of One Piece. It’s a mood thing.

Except here. I did not have enough handouts.

The panel basically goes over the philosophy in my book, concerning how a resume is basically a creative writing exercise. People enjoyed the idea and were really engaged – and we covered a lot of resume subjects beyond my outline. There was a good vibe in the room, which I think is part of the convention’s genial nature.

The more I think about it, you really can see a convention’s “attitude” reflect in events. The heavy level of professional events at the convention and its friendly nature made the event well-attended and interesting. People were “in the mood” to learn.

Then a quick break and I was on to . . .

Fan To Pro:

My usual panel that I’ve done and evolved for years. I didn’t expect a big attendance as I do this every year or every other year. I can’t be that interesting. Though I’ve thought this before. Still . . .

. . . the room was filled. I think a good chunk of that, again, was the conventions attitude and focus. But really, it was filled.

People were responsive to the ideas in the presentation, and, again, engaged. I even had a few friends show up, one of whom got used anonymously for an example (wasn’t going to put the poor guy on the spot). What really mattered at the end was people thanking me for giving them a new perspective.

That’s a big part of what I speak of – getting a perspective that lets you use your hobbies in your life and career. It’s inventorying a tool kit you may not know you have.

A big lesson for this panel, beyond bring enough damn handouts, is that perspective really is something you can do a panel or event on. Sometimes it’s just about giving people a new viewpoint – and they take it from there. That’s one reason people talking about their careers matters in the convention scene.

Also, it was nice to have a big crowed. Makes me energized to punch it up for next time . . .

Geek Networking:

Really, I need more handouts.

But beyond that, I’ve been wanting to make a shift in these networking events from me hosting and overseeing to more facilitating and encouraging. This was kind of a mid-range version where I’d ask questions and get people to help each other.

As the place was at near-maximum capacity, we had a lot going on.

Mostly what I did was ask questions, get people to state what they did, who they needed, advice they could give, etc. In between that I used each event as an example of how to network.

The crowd was great. People helped each other, exchange tons of cards (and one guy realized he needed personal cards), and synced up. Fantastic group of attendees – about three of them were real networking machines, and I’d love to work with them on a panel in the future.

Though they did like the idea of it being a more social event with perhaps stickers to come meet each other and hosts to connect people. I’ll aim that for next year.

Closing:

AOD has really managed its expansion well, and I like the increased career focus. I’m going to be back next year, raring to go.

The attitude was what kept coming back to me. It felt right. People were in the right mood. That’s a difficult thing to engineer, but it’s importance can’t be overstated.

So I’ll be back.

With more handouts.

A lot more.

– Steven Savage