Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions for volunteers

Why are volunteers needed for convocation?

The University of Waterloo celebrates student’s academic achievements with convocation ceremonies in the spring and fall. Convocation is one of the largest events run on campus and requires assistance from many volunteers — a team of over 100 is needed to run one ceremony!

We are recruiting campus volunteers — students, staff, and faculty — to help run a smooth, safe and celebratory event for students graduating and their families.

Why would volunteering for convocation benefit me?

Volunteerism is a great way to test out different roles and opportunities, as well as give back to something you’re passionate about.

At the University of Waterloo, we are all in the business of student success — making sure students have what they need to thrive and reach the milestone of graduation. Convocation volunteerism offers a unique opportunity for you to learn new skills, support the celebratory event and connect with campus colleagues and students. Volunteering at convocation will provide new experiences that will strengthen your skill set, allow you to network with campus colleagues and learn more about how the University functions as a community.

How do I get involved in convocation if I am a staff member?

You’ve come to the right place to begin the process of getting involved in convocation! You will find detailed information on this web page.

You can volunteer for as many ceremonies as you would like, subject to your manager’s approval. Convocation ceremonies take place during regular business hours and on evenings and weekends, and thus your manager will need to approve the time away from the office.

What will I gain from volunteering at convocation?

  • You will develop skills related to the volunteer role. Skills could include:
    • Leadership skills
    • Customer service skills
    • Organizational skills
    • Relationship development skills
    • Time management skills
    • Communication skills
  • If you are a staff member and work on an evening or weekend you could receive time in lieu for the hours worked.
  • By giving back to the Waterloo’s convocation you will gain a deeper connection to the community and build pride for the institution you work at.
  • A recognition letter from the president of the University of Waterloo thanking you for your commitment, which can be used during your performance review.
  • A lunch or dinner provided either before or after your convocation shift.

Policy 18 outlines the Training and Development approach the University of Waterloo takes when it comes to staff development. It is recommended you review this to understand Waterloo’s stance on this topic.

As a staff member, how do I request approval to volunteer?

Participation as a volunteer for convocation is encouraged by the president of the University of Waterloo. Requesting time off is necessary and approaching your manager in a timely manner inquiring about this opportunity is important.

A frequently asked questions section has been created that can be shared with your manager, which can answer many of their questions.

It is important to highlight to your manager the professional and personal development you will gain as an employee, the skill you will bring back to your current role and the opportunity to assist in the major milestone for all students on campus — what we all work hard to see achieved!

As a staff member, will I be compensated for my time?

See Policy 16: Overtime, University Support Staff to understand the approach the University of Waterloo takes when it comes to time in lieu.

If you volunteer for a ceremony outside of regular business hours (evening and weekend ceremonies) you may or may not receive time in lieu for your volunteer commitment. If time in lieu is not granted by your manager, you can still donate your time to an evening or weekend ceremony. Please still consider volunteering for convocation if time in lieu is not approved by your manager.

What types of volunteer roles can I apply for?

There are many volunteer roles to apply for at convocation. Some examples include Faculty Procession Marshal, Student Procession Marshal or Student Hooder.

An extensive list, including job descriptions, can be found within the application system.

What time commitment would I be making if I volunteer for convocation?

You are asked to commit to at least one convocation ceremony (approximately a four-hour shift), and up to as many additional ceremonies as you would like depending on availability and approval from your manager if you are a staff member. Volunteer shifts begin approximately an hour and a half before the ceremony (depending on specific role) and conclude once the ceremony is over and guests depart. Note that lunch and dinner meals will be provided either before or after a ceremony shift.

Example of a shift timelines:

Morning ceremony

Time Schedule
8:30 a.m. Prepare for the convocation ceremony
10 a.m. Ceremony begins
12 p.m. Ceremony ends
12:30 p.m. Lunch is provided to volunteers

Afternoon ceremony

Time Schedule
12 p.m. Lunch is provided to volunteers / Prepare for the convocation ceremony
2:30 p.m. Ceremony begins
4:30 p.m. Ceremony ends

Evening ceremony

Time Schedule
5 p.m. Dinner is provided to volunteers / Prepare for the convocation ceremony
6:30 p.m. Ceremony begins
8:30 p.m. Ceremony ends

What kind of training will be provided?

Training will be conducted prior to convocation to provide you with the information and resources needed to be successful in your role. One to three training sessions, depending on the role you choose, will be provided during lunch hours. As well, there is a possibility of a seasoned volunteer on-site at the same time as you who can assist with any additional questions during the ceremonies.

When are the convocation ceremonies?

How many ceremonies can I volunteer for?

Since convocation runs during regular business hours, in the evenings and on weekends, you will need to request approval from your manager to participate as a volunteer and the number of ceremonies.

If you are a student or retiree, please feel free to participate in as many ceremonies you can accommodate.

What should I wear?

It is best to come dressed in business casual attire (e.g., dress pants, dress shirt/blouse, business skirt/dress, etc). This is a celebratory event where guests will be dressed in more formal clothing so we want to ensure volunteers align with the occasion.

Depending on your role you may be required to wear a black convocation gown which will be provided to you free of charge. The gown is placed over the clothes you are already wearing.

It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet throughout the ceremony.

Frequently asked questions for managers

Why are staff members needed as convocation volunteers?

The University of Waterloo celebrates student’s academic achievements with convocation ceremonies in the spring and fall. Convocation is one of the largest events run on campus and requires assistance from many volunteers — a team of over 100 is needed to run one ceremony!

We are recruiting campus community members to help run a smooth, safe and celebratory event for students graduating and their families in attendance.

Who compensates my staff member for participation in convocation?

When you approve a staff member to volunteer for convocation, the employee's home department will release them for the hours required. See the ceremonial timelines below. It is your discretion as to whether lieu time is granted to your staff member for hours worked outside of regular business hours (i.e., evening and weekend ceremonies).

For shifts worked outside of the employee’s regular business hours, it is recommended that the home department will honour time in lieu for the hours worked. The amount of lieu time calculated can be determined based on the ceremony timelines found below. A typical volunteer shift is approximately four hours in length.

Should you decide not to provide time in lieu for volunteer hours worked in the evenings and on weekends, it is then a decision for your staff member as to whether they would like to donate their time to volunteer. Convocation would still benefit greatly from any staff member who chooses to donate their time — feel free to encourage this participation.

What benefit is it to my staff member to participate in convocation?

Convocation is a celebratory milestone and is an opportunity for campus community volunteers to share in the celebration and link their work directly to this milestone.

This is a professional development opportunity for your staff. Convocation volunteerism offers the opportunity for staff members to work with a cross-functional team to learn new skills, hone current ones and experience different opportunities that could shape their career trajectory. Depending on the volunteer role your staff member takes on they would learn the following:

  • Leadership skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Relationship development skills
  • Time management skills
  • Communication skills, etc.

Convocation volunteerism is also an opportunity for your staff member to connect and network with other staff on campus, only strengthening the campus community.

Convocation volunteers will receive a letter of recognition from the president of the University highlighting their contribution to convocation that can be used during your staff member’s performance review.

What time commitment would my staff member be making?

Your staff member is asked to commit to at least one convocation ceremony (approximately a four hour shift) and up to as many as they would like depending on availability and approval. Volunteer shifts will begin approximately an hour and a half before the ceremony (depending on the specific role) and will conclude once the ceremony is over and guests depart. Note that lunch and dinner meals will be provided either before or after a ceremony shift.

Example of a shift timeline:

Morning ceremony

Time Schedule
8:30 a.m. Prepare for the convocation ceremony
10 a.m. Ceremony begins
12 p.m. Ceremony ends
12:30 p.m. Lunch is provided to volunteers

Afternoon ceremony

Time Schedule
12 p.m. Lunch is provided to volunteers / Prepare for the convocation ceremony
2:30 p.m. Ceremony begins
4:30 p.m. Ceremony ends

Evening ceremony

Time Schedule
5 p.m. Dinner is provided to volunteers / Prepare for the convocation ceremony
6:30 p.m. Ceremony begins
8:30 p.m. Ceremony ends

What kind of training will be provided?

Training will be conducted prior to convocation to provide your staff member with the information and resources needed to be successful. One to three training sessions, depending on the role chosen, will be provided during lunch hours and thus won’t affect working hours. There is also the potential for on-site training to be conducted with experienced convocation volunteers.

When are the convocation ceremonies?