Why Does Symposium Attract So Many Volunteers? Should YOU Get in on It?

teamwork volunteeringApproximately 130 people volunteered for PMI Mile Hi’s 20th Annual Symposium and many also had served previous Symposiums. So, why is Symposium a favorite volunteer experience?

In my own experience, I started volunteering for the Symposium partly to get discounted registration (my work didn't support) and partly for an opportunity to work with other project managers on a project. 

I've always been the only PM in my organization, and I felt a need to network. My volunteering quickly morphed into a multi-year core team position that has provided a fabulous peer network, opportunities to lead and to give back, and friendly interactions that encourage me. 

But even before I volunteered, Symposium had become an important annual event for me. It's a great place to get PDUs, meet other PMs, and to learn about resources available to me in my profession.

Here are some other reasons why:

1. Get in on the excitement of bringing “the big event.”

When you come right down to it, Symposium is fun! For us on the Symposium Core Team, it’s like our “game day.” Not only is it the Chapter’s signature event of the year, it’s also one of the largest Professional Development Days from PMI Chapters anywhere in the US.

Our registration team is ready well before 7 a.m. when the doors open.  Tell me that watching 1,600 people flow down the escalators to us in Registration and then into the Mile High Ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center isn’t exciting. IT IS! (And a bit daunting, too!)

2. Develop “friends for life.”

The Symposium offers all kinds of service opportunities to fit your schedule. You can volunteer for as little as a couple hours on event day (and get $125 off your registration!) Some positions also involve assisting the Core Team for one to four months prior to the event, with discounts and PDUs attached.

And then there’s the Core Team. It’s a team of around a dozen people who put in a full year of planning and implementing the event. It involves a lot of responsibility, innovative ideas and strategies, hundreds of hours of work and the challenges of stretching ourselves to learn new skills.

Through all this, we become a close knit team who stay friends and allies for years to come. Some of us have called it “friends for life,” and I can attest that it really is. My Core Team members are some of the first people I go to with career questions, needs and opportunities.

3. Increase your marketability; build a better resume.

I recently read a magazine story stating that “82% of interviewers told Deloitte they prefer applicants with volunteer experience, and 92% say volunteer activities build leadership skills. Yet, the report says, only about one in three (32%) of job seekers mention unpaid community-service experience on their resumes.

“People who’ve put their professional skills to work for free have a slightly bigger edge with hiring managers, Deloitte found, than those whose volunteer work was unrelated to their roles at work. About 85% of the job interviewers said skills-based activities made candidates better at communicating, and 88% praised those applicants’ “strong character.” (Source: Fortune Magazine, 6.28.16)

4. Get your registration discounts!

Volunteer discounts are $125 for two hours on event day (earn 2 PDUs!) and on up from that depending on your term of service. Combine that with an Early Bird discount of $150 and a Group Discount of $55 and you can attend Symposium for an amazingly affordable price.

For information on Volunteer Opportunities for our 2019 Symposium, contact Kathy Weyand, PMP, For other PMI Mile Hi Volunteer Opportunities, contact Kathy Witt, PMP,


About the Author

Lisa VanderHeyden, PMP, is Registration Lead for our 2018 Symposium. Connect with her on LinkedIn. For general Symposium information: Carolyn Riggs, CMP,

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