Am I mentor?

This is a question that I have been trying to answer this past year. I am a alumni from Team 111 WildStang. I graduated in 2009. This past year I returned to WildStang to lead the student section of our Strategy Team. Basically I help got the students organized for competitions and help them decide on what data we want and how we want to collect it. I also help them stay focused at the competitions. Do I classify myself as a mentor or just as a volunteer? I know I am legally not chaperone since I am only 19, but do I deserve to be called a mentor?


In my opinion, yes.


In my opinion, you’re a mentor. In FIRST, the distinction between mentors and volunteers is team affiliation. If you’re an inspector at an event, you’re a volunteer because you are essentially not affiliated with a team while you’re at the event. If you’re helping a team during build season or during an event, then you have a team affiliation and are thus a mentor.

Hope this helps.

Being a mentor doesn’t have an age requirement. As long as you are positively influencing someone you could be called a mentor and a role model.

I once had a thought about creating something like a sub-forum for young mentors to create threads in and have discussions like this. I envisioned it to be something along this line - where students who have graduated from high school and moved on into helping on the mentor side of things could share thoughts and concerns. Young mentors can often be supported and listened to or advised in areas of concern for them by the mentors who have been around the block a few times can understand. Of course, if you are Al Skierkiewicz, your block has become trenched. :smiley:

On teams, I think there are volunteer roles. Those roles are valuable and have to do with a lot of the organizational side of things or of providing something for the team. Our lead mentor may get out the word that he or the team needs a volunteer to help set up our sponsor reception or pick up something on the way to the shop. That’s a little different than a mentor who works with the team directly, helping the team prepare for competition in specific areas. It is true that mentors can have a much bigger impact on the team and on individuals than in the specific area they work in. That is the mark of a true mentor - their impact. They can’t force the impact, it just happens. I came across a post that Andy Baker made a while back. He was talking about mentors learning to empower others. I’ll try to find that post - it was most excellent and may help you as you mull this over.

Be back in a little while.

Ok, found it. I like the lessons in this post that Andy offers to us. He teaches us to listen to the wisdom of other teams like our HoF team, FRC 191, and that mentors grow and develop just as students do and just as the FRC program does and has done.

After reading it, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. do you hope to inspire and encourage the students you are working with?
  2. do you hope to empower them by helping them develop skills and deepen their understanding of the importance of doing their job well?


Yup, you are a mentor now. If it feels odd now it gets even weirder when the last student who “knew you as a student” graduates. Then you are old :ahh:. Happened to me a couple years ago.

They did a neat segment at Chesapeake Regional. They handed the mic to Head Ref Steve Shade, Lead Inspector Anne Shade & Announcer/Emcee Greg Needel to talk about the transition from HS students on a FIRST team to engineers and mentors of a FIRST team. It made me reminisce a bit about meeting when we were all students and before Steve and Anne were married.

I encountered the same problem earlier on this season.

I had a really hard time adjusting to the added responsibility and power of being a mentor. I felt strange giving kids I once worked alongside of directions to do things. Now I’ve gotten into my groove, so to say, and I learned what kind of mentor I need to be for my team. I found that the best and most comfortable way for me to mentor is as more of an Older Sibling.

On Team Paragon we gave the students who returned sometime in the four years after high school the role of “junior mentor”. These mentors guide us at the site, but do not count as chaperones individually. They do, however, count in our rule that there must be two mentors in attendance when a student is under the care of the team. They also attend the mentor meetings and get to treated as the other mentors would.

That’s the approach I’m taking, too. At least for my first year or two as a mentor. It feels weird, but the students don’t seem to mind, so I’m fine with it.

You are definitely a mentor. In my team, Two Alumni, one from my team and one from Thunder Chickens, help my teammate and I lead scouting. They’re just as much of a mentor as any of the other mentors on my team. They have really helped. You are even a mentor by the Dictionary Definition!

men·tor [men-tawr, -ter]
a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
an influential senior sponsor or supporter.
–verb (used without object)
to act as a mentor: She spent years mentoring to junior employees.
–verb (used with object)
to act as a mentor to: The brash young executive did not wish to be mentored by anyone.

Just keep up the good work!

You are teaching the students so yes you would be a mentor

Hey im almost in the same boat. I graduated last year, and came back to mentor the team. So you are a mentor in my books. Always great when FIRST alumni decides to give back.

I think you have your answer: Yes, you are a mentor.

I am going through almost the identical thing this season. In my opinion alumni is a classification for people who graduated from a team and aren’t as involved in FIRST anymore while a volunteer is not affiliated with any team. You help guide the kids on your team, you are a mentor.

Absolutely YES!


You have been a mentor since your second year on the team in my opinion. Maybe not an adult mentor but as a returning student I am sure you were admired by new students and I hope you helped to pass your knowledge on.

HOWEVER, I would suggest, for your own benefit, that you help out a different team. Take it from me, every single team is different, they have their quirks. Being exposed to different ways of doing things can only expand you as a person.

Dude, you don’t know feeling old. When I started in FIRST (way back in 1997), I was a fresh college graduate (in 1996). I was only a few years older than the seniors back then and I could relate pretty well to the students.

Fast forward to this year when I had the realization that we have students on our team that weren’t even born when I started mentoring in FIRST. Now THAT makes you feel old. Yuck.

As bad as that makes me feel, I can always take comfort in looking at my good buddy Ken Patton and saying, “how’s it going, old man?” :slight_smile:

welcome to the world of mentoring

^true, during build season i had to “student-mentor” some of the rookies on my team, was a good experience

If people call me a mentor, then you’re a mentor. :slight_smile:

Even though you’re helping out your old team, I’d still call you a mentor. Maybe qualify it a little with “college mentor” or something, but you aren’t a student nor are you acting as one (I’m assuming).

Yes, you are a mentor. Grab your pin and get back to inspiring youth.