Interested in volunteering in the Olympic Games?
Here’s the step-by-step process on how to become an Olympic volunteer. Increase your chances of being selected by following the suggestions below!
- 300,000 people apply to be volunteers
- 150,000 are chosen to participate in an on-line interview
- 70,000 of those will be “considered” as volunteers
- 50,000 will likely be chosen
The application process starts almost 2 years prior to the Olympics. Search 2.5 years in advance if you plan to volunteer in an upcoming Game. Search “volunteer in Olympics ” because the Olympics have different websites for each city. Wait until the city sets up their site before trying to apply.
2 years before the Olympic Games
The on-line application is lengthy and requires time to answer the detailed questions. Therefore, it’s important to spend time answering the open-ended questions completely. Be sure to submit the application before the deadline. Remember, only half of the applicants are chosen for an on-line interview.
1 year before the Olympic Games
Complete the on-line training modules that are sent to you.
Participate in an on-line interview approximately 4-6 months prior to the Olympic Games.
Interview Preparation Tips
- Get your computer set up 15 minutes early
- Be sure both your speakers and microphone are on and working
- Follow their directions specifically
- Verify the time of your interview as it correlates to your time zone.
- There are many different options for times and dates that will be offered for an interview. Be sure to verify a time and date that will definitely work for you. Changing the time/date can be a hassle.
On-line interview questions
My on-line interview consisted of 6 participants and a moderator (another volunteer in Rio).
1. A short, inspirational video may be shown to showcase volunteering in the Rio Olympics.
2. A review a 3 different Olympic athletes were displayed and we were each asked to discuss which athlete we resembled most and why.
3. The task of writing and singing a jingle (just one of us) about volunteering in the Olympics. The words joy, mission, value, and people were suggested to incorporate into the jingle.
4. Lastly, we were asked to name one word which best describes an Olympic volunteer.
Hints on successfully getting through the selection process:
- Spend time on your application and read the questions thoroughly.
- Talk about past volunteer and leadership experiences to make your application stand out (i.e. computer skills, medical background, past sports experiences, etc.).
- Participate in the on-line interview but don’t overtake the conversation. The main goal of the interview is to find out if you’re a team player and how motivated you are to volunteer.
Expect delays in replies and answers to your questions. The volunteer process is run by volunteers just like you. They have full time jobs and offer to help interview and select volunteers during their free time.
Long timeline– Be prepared to attend the Olympics regardless of whether or not you’re chosen. You’ll likely need to book a hotel or AirBnB before finding out if you’re accepted.
Training– Expect to spend a couple of hours each month completing the required training modules. For example, modules include information about the Olympic venues and expectations of the volunteers while others focus on learning the language of the country.
Invitation email– Accept in invitation to become a volunteer within 6 days. The position may be offered to someone else if you don’t accept it quickly. Be diligent about reading every email that comes your way, even if its in a different language.
Schedule– Expect to work at the Olympics for a minimum of 10 days to participate as a volunteer.
Budget– Olympic committees sometimes require budget cuts to stay within their allotted budget therefore the number of volunteers may get cut to save on costs.
When will I find out if I was selected as a volunteer?
Continually check back to the website. My Olympic Volunteer Portal continually stated “Under Review”, therefore I ended up emailing the organization to inquire more details. The Volunteer Portal verified in January that I had been selected but didn’t send me an official letter offering me a position until May.
When will I find out my assignment and schedule?
You may find out your assignment and schedule as early as April before the Olympic Games but it may also take some time. I found out my assignment in late June (after I had bought plane tickets and tickets to Olympic events). Take my advice and ACCEPT your schedule “as is” versus denying it otherwise your position will go to someone else. Once you arrive for your first shift (you will likely be scheduled for 6 shifts during the two week period) talk to your lead about adjusting it or find a teammate to switch with you.
What expenses are covered?
The word “volunteer” means just that. Transportation within the city on the days you volunteer will be covered as well as the uniform you will wear and meals during your shifts. Flights, lodging, etc. are your own costs therefore volunteering is for those truly wishing to partake in the experience without the financial incentive to do so.
My Olympic Volunteer Role
I was accepted as a technology volunteer. My job was to make sure athletes had the correct electronic timekeeping chip underneath his or her bib. I helped athletes prior to the competition with their bibs. My teammates and I were responsible for collecting them from each athlete following the event. Mo Farah’s chip is pictured to the left.
The perks of this assignment? I witnessed the athletes warming up underneath the stadium prior to the race and had access to restricted areas like the warm-up track and ready areas. I saw a completely different perspective on what the athletes go through for each event. As you can see from the video above our team was right in the action before each event, an incredible experience!
Standing on the Olympic track to help with blocks during the events was an unforgettable experience. I’ll never be an Olympian but my dream to be apart of the Olympics finally came true!
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