First Year Students advice here please

Well, we are in the thick of it right now. Its the middle of build season and between delphi, designing the robot, getting your awards ready, animations, and building there is a lot going on. Around the world right about now there are FIRST newbies walking around annoying you to death with questions or in heards of friends doing absolutely nothing. So how do you feel about FIRST and your team in general. I remember my first year I was so overwhelmed and fairly unplugged from the whole process. How do you feel about all this and do you feel like you are plugged in enough to understand, learn, and make a difference. Feel free to post here, I know my team is harsh on first years posting but dont worry. I want to know so I can help some of our new kids transition a little better myself.

It’s my first build season on my team (I joined over the summer), so I of course feel slightly out of the loop. But the lead for my mechanical subteam is an EXTREMELY understanding and helpful guy, so I don’t really feel all that alone. 90% of the time there’s things for me to do, so I take those new experiences and learn from them. And yes, we have a few people who sit around on their butts and socialize, but I wouldn’t know, I’m usually in the shop gaining experience… :stuck_out_tongue: I think a great way to help new kids transition into FIRST is to find out whatever they like/ do best (like Controls, Drive Team), and then stick them with the subteam lead so they can learn from the experienced team members. Shadowing helped me the most…

My first year as a student brings back a lot of interesting memories. I think the most important aspect of making a first year student’s expereince better is companionship. I felt really comfortable with my mentors, and I felt like they did their best to help me get used to things. The ones that had been on teams always seemed happy to explain things at competition or during build season that myself and other first years didn’t know. The ones that hadn’t been on teams were always pretty willing to discuss a problem or question and help me find the answer, or even just to listen.

However, my team stresses respect. Yes, sometimes people are pretty harsh on new people, but I’ve noticed that the new people that don’t have problems are the ones that really act like they like being there and want to make a genuine effort instead of doing useless stuff. Each month the students and advisors split up for a group forum to discuss concerns. The voices that gain my respect, no matter what year they come from, are those that present a well thought-out and reasonable discussion, whether it is in student forum or in the lab. :slight_smile: Maturity and effort are the mark of a successful 1st year student.

Making new members feel welcome is one of the experienced team members’ most important responsibilities. Build season is an extremely busy time and often the experienced members want to get right down to business and do the tasks that they already know how to do. New members left with nothing to do (or relegated to filing duty) will not be happy. Give them a meaninful project. Ask them what aspect of the competition interests them most and if they know, let them work on that. If they don’t know, show them some choices. When you are working on your particular task, have a new member working with you and teach them how to do it. If they feel engaged and useful, they will be more happy and dedicated. Somebody in another thread mentioned showing old competition videos to grab the interest of new members and show them what all this work is for. Make sure you keep them in the loops: add their names to your email lists, give them important dates and information, etc. It may even be a good idea to have one person in charge of “rookie affairs” making sure that all the new members are involved and happy. As a middle/high-school competition, FIRST teams will undergo complete turnovers every few years. When you graduate and move on, you should be satisfied that you passed on everything you learned to a new member who can fill your shoes.

I know my first year, I wouldn’t say i actually did much. There is so much to learn about building a FIRST robot and you come in with basically no knowledge. Its hard for me to explain to new kids that the best thing they can do for their first year, is to watch and learn. If you’re always following around somebdoy who knows what they’re doing you will learn do things. Then later that year or the following year you can lead the group that the person led before. After three years of doing that, I could almost say i know everything there is about building a robot but i know that wouldn’t be true. Every day i still learn something. Of course i have to leave next year and another student will be my succesor after he watched and learned for three years. Its the FIRST cycle of learning and graduating.

I’ve noticed a main thing among first-year members: the lack of work. I believe that they are confused because they can’t find work. I remember my first year, I was incredibly passive and just watched most of the time. My advice for new members is to actively find work to do. People always appreciate hard-workers. I know I do.

First year, Second year, Third year, or ever Fouth, the main thing I think anyone can do is just pay attention to what’s happening for awhile, then get involved in the activity/area. In fact, one of our most productive members would be the only freshman on the team, who has taken an interest in an area, then devoted the time to get involved. Theres been a good amount of time on our team that the good majority of people are doing nothing, and just messing around when a lot needs to get done. Paying attention and making yourself usefull are the key. I have a feeling that many teams are in such a situation, where you could count on one hand the number of people who really work to get the robot done.