Unlocking Your Potential: The Power of Volunteering at SIGGRAPH Asia

Unlocking Your Potential: The Power of Volunteering at SIGGRAPH Asia

Four passionate individuals, Nicolas Nghiem, Trinity Quintanilla, Shaun Tan and Kevin Dai generously share their journeys as student volunteers, revealing opportunities woven with networking, learning, and professional growth.

In the dynamic landscape of computer graphics and interactive techniques, SIGGRAPH Asia shines as a beacon for innovation, collaboration, and the exchange of cutting-edge ideas. Four passionate individuals, Nicolas Nghiem, Trinity Quintanilla, Shaun Tan and Kevin Dai generously share their journeys as student volunteers, revealing opportunities woven with networking, learning, and professional growth.

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Nicolas Nghiem: Bridging Art and Engineering

Nicolas Nghiem's journey commenced in 2018, driven by a desire to blend his engineering background with artistic aspirations. As a Crowds Technical Director at Industrial Light and Magic, Nicolas found SIGGRAPH Asia to be more than a conference—it was a transformative experience that transcended professional boundaries.

"Volunteering at SIGGRAPH was my opportunity to finally find a career that I would be happy pursuing." - Nicolas Nghiem

Motivated by the captivating papers from Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS), Nicolas's volunteering venture surpassed the conventional conference experience. It became a catalyst for personal growth, exposing him to diverse career paths within computer graphics and alleviating anxieties about his professional trajectory.

A pivotal moment in Nicolas's narrative unfolded through networking at SIGGRAPH Asia where he had the chance to meet and talk to a professor multiple times during the conference. They stayed in contact, and he finally ended up getting an internship at his lab. This encounter led to a period of rich learning experiences and laid the foundation for Nicolas's continued engagement with SIGGRAPH Asia.

As a Team Leader in the Volunteer program, Nicolas discovered the rare opportunity to develop leadership skills early in his career. "Being a Team Leader was the occasion to focus on different aspects that I do not get to think about at work as an artist," he shares, highlighting the unique perspective volunteering brought to his professional journey.

"SIGGRAPH is bubbling with new technologies, crazy ideas, and inspiring researchers. Each time I went, I left with tons of ideas I wanted to try, topics I wanted to explore." - Nicolas Nghiem

Trinity Quintanilla: Scripting Leadership through Volunteering

Trinity Quintanilla, an animation student specialising in storyboarding, embarked on her SIGGRAPH Asia journey in 2020 during the first virtual conference. Her initial role as a chatroom moderator laid the foundation for a transformative volunteering experience that saw her evolve into a team leader across various SIGGRAPH programs.

"What started as a simple moderation role evolved into a multifaceted volunteering experience." - Trinity Quintanilla

Trinity's involvement was sparked by her professor's enthusiastic recommendation during her freshman year. SIGGRAPH Asia's impact on her personal and professional growth surpassed expectations, transforming her into a more confident and capable individual.

The friends I have made alone have molded me into a much more confident and capable person than I ever was before," Trinity reflects.

Her journey from a meek freshman to a confident team leader showcases the transformative power of volunteering. "I had co-directed the third installment of Gem Animate, a fan-based multi-animator project with roughly 50 other artists. But this was my only leadership experience, and it was entirely virtual. Luckily, so was my first experience as a team lead with SIGGRAPH."

"Through SIGGRAPH, I have met skilled storyboard artists in the industry who have helped me to strengthen my portfolio." - Trinity Quintanilla

Shaun Tan: From Shyness to Spotlight

Hailing from Perth and studying at the UTS Animal Logic Academy in Sydney, Shaun Tan has delved into volunteering at SIGGRAPH Asia for the second year as a Team Leader and his third time as a student volunteer in the SV program. Shaun's initial motivation stemmed from observing other TLs and committee members going out of their way to help newer and shy SVs get familiar with the event.

"I was pretty shy at the time, so it's made me more confident and a lot more outgoing; it's also been a great way to make new friends worldwide, and taking part in SIGGRAPH Asia is also something my university lecturers have been impressed by." - Shaun Tan

Volunteering led Shaun to valuable networking opportunities, allowing him to connect with people from companies he aspired to work for. Through these interactions, Shaun gained insights into improving his CV and learned about the industry's inner workings. Shaun's recognition as an active SIGGRAPH participant opened doors and helped him make a mark in the industry.

"It is an excellent way to stand out to your future employers and others in the industry you could be working alongside. Volunteering shows that you are willing to take initiative and go out of your way to be involved with the community and help." - Shaun Tan

Kevin Dai: Unveiling Mathematical Marvels

Kevin Dai's odyssey into computer graphics ignited in the quiet confines of his bedroom. There, he dedicated his evenings to crafting animations, an endeavor that seamlessly blended physics and mathematics. His intrigue with science burgeoned, propelling him to major in chemistry and mathematics. Currently on the verge of completing his Honours in applied mathematics at the University of New South Wales, Kevin harbors ambitions of venturing into the animation industry.

"SIGGRAPH was the transformative journey I didn't know I needed." - Kevin DaiFor me.  It wasn't just a conference; it was a voyage into a realm of visionaries." - Kevin Dai

The inception of his volunteering voyage transpired at the 2022 SIGGRAPH Asia conference in South Korea. Enamoured by the experience, Kevin's commitment led him to volunteer at SIGGRAPH North America and once more at SIGGRAPH Asia in Sydney.

"While my professional journey is yet to unfurl, the impact of my SIGGRAPH sojourn is already perceptible." - Kevin Dai

Transitioning from academia to the animation industry, Kevin Dai envisions that the seeds planted during volunteering will yield fruits of success. Aspiring volunteers are encouraged to let their essays resonate suitability, drawing on anecdotes of customer service and teamwork. Articulating the seamless alignment between SIGGRAPH and personal or professional pursuits is key to a successful application.

Foresightful networking, with LinkedIn and Instagram prepped pre-conference, facilitates post-SIGGRAPH connections. Kevin's narrative echoes a commitment to growth, a passion for animation, and a dedication to the fusion of mathematics with visual storytelling.

Shared Wisdom: Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

"Before the conference, it is nice to look at the program closely. Identifying what talk/presentation/exhibition interests you will help you use your free time more effectively!" - Nicolas Nghiem
"Don’t sell yourself short on your application. Highlight the skills you've developed, even if it's from retail, food service, or any other experience. You have valuable skills that will make you stand out." - Trinity Quintanilla
"It's handy to have set up a LinkedIn and an Instagram account before the conference. They are convenient platforms to keep in touch with other SVs and professionals after SIGGRAPH. Apply; you won't know until you try, and if you feel like it's out of your comfort zone, you're heading in the right direction." - Shaun Tan
"Volunteering at SIGGRAPH starts with an application through the SIGGRAPH or SIGGRAPH Asia website. You will need to submit essays explaining why you will make a good SV. I think it helps to share anecdotes of delivering customer service and working in teams. It also helps to describe how being at SIGGRAPH aligns with your professional or personal interest." - Kevin Dai

Together, Nicolas, Trinity, Shaun, and Kevin offer invaluable advice, weaving a narrative that paints SIGGRAPH Asia as more than a conference—it's a dynamic tapestry of connections, growth, and opportunities.

Ready to Craft Your SIGGRAPH Story? Join Us at SIGGRAPH Asia 2023!

Mark your calendars for December 12–15, 2023, at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia. Be a part of this dynamic community of innovators and creators.

Register now using the exclusive discount code RookiesY8Z6S for a 10% discount.