Joining a team as a mentor?

I’m sure some of you may have seen me post a few times on here, asking for suggestion on what I should do now that I’ve graduated High School and am no longer an FRC student. Well, now that a year or so has gone by, I’ve given a lot of consideration to trying to mentor some of the teams in my local area.

A lot of the experienced CD-ers have been on multiple teams. It’s that kind of experience I’m looking to draw on.

I guess what I’m asking are two things:
1 - How do I go about getting in contact with a team? I understand that, if necessary, I could contact my regional director. Is it a better practice to reach out to a team directly? If I have a certain team or teams in mind, should I talk to them right off the bat?

2 - What are your experiences being a new mentor on a team? As a Non-Engineering Mentor-wannabe, with a little experience in strategy, design and programming, am I going to find that some teams won’t have much of a place for me? Or do most teams find some place for an aspiring mentor? I’d assume that varies from team to team, but what have been your experiences?

I figured there may already be a thread on this, but I didn’t have much luck searching. Maybe it’s because I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for. If you know of a thread where this has been discussed, PLEASE DIRECT ME TO IT ASAP!

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

-Leeland

  1. If you have certain teams in mind, by all means talk to them directly. Otherwise, your best bet is to go the RD route, or pay attention until you find a team that may be in need of a mentor.

  2. As a NEM-type, you’re probably going to be in demand. However, most teams just don’t know they need a NEM. That means you’ll have to sell yourself to the team.

Thanks Eric! Those are some of the answers I’m looking for. I’m specifically looking at teams who may be in need of a mentor with FRC experience in general. I’m looking for teams who can benefit from my (comparatively little) experience, as much as I can benefit from being with them.

I didn’t know there may be a need for NEM-type mentors. I guess it’s understandable. I’ll certainly try to sell my experience on my team’s promotion and marketing teams.

Thanks for the advice!

I can’t imagine a team NOT wanting another mentor! There are so many tasks, and it is so nice to have a smaller ratio of adults to kids to help all the kids grow. How close are you to BX? haha Your FIRST experience alone would make you valuable to any rookie team, and most teams in general. Good luck finding the right fit! :slight_smile:

Do a little research. Find teams in your area, look them up, and if they have representatives on Chief Delphi, PM them, asking about the team. It’s easier to join a team you know a bit about, or know a bit about the people, than to join a whole new team you know nothing about, and there’s no better place than CD.

So, here are some steps:

  1. Do some homework. Find teams in your area you may be interested in mentoring. This page on the FIRST website may help with that.

  2. Make a “picklist” of teams, and do some research. Get a few teams, and read up about them. How they run, how they usually perform in competitions, what roles mentors play on the team, and most importantly, what you can do to benefit the team, and vice versa

  3. Once you find your top teams, start contacting people on them. If they’re on CD, then PM the people, and ask about the team.

  4. Start asking if you can help mentor. Do this carefully, as you don’t want to ask 3 teams, and have all 3 say they want you at the same time. Choose a number 1 team, and contact them first. If they say yes, you’re in. If they say no, ask your number 2 team, and so on.

Pro-Tip: If you are at your 4th or 5th team, and nobody is accepting you, you need to look over what you’re doing, because something’s wrong. The biggest issue I see people do when they try these kinds of things is either over-selling themselves, or under-selling themselves, usually the latter. Show them your FIRST experience, what you’ve done to benefit your past team(s), and most importantly, what you will bring to the table if you join their team.

Good luck finding a team! I hope you find a nice new FIRST family!

I definitely second using the FIRST website to search for teams in the area. That’s how I found the team I am currently mentoring for after moving for work.

If they’re a very experienced or large team you might need to list some selling points, but if a team you talk to is anything like the two I’ve been with they’re just looking for any mentoring help they can get at all, regardless of your experience or knowledge. Good luck in your search!

You should take into consideration what kind of team you wish to work for and then find out if that team actually needs you (believe it or not there are teams that do have an overabundance of mentors on them and you could end up joining a team with nothing to do). Choose carefully. You don’t want to get stuck on a team where you are their savior and get overburdened with work and get quickly burnt out and you don’t ant to be a fifth wheel so talk to teams and see what they need and measure it with your own considerations and move on from there.

Thanks for the advice guys! I really appreciate all the help.

Fortunately for me, I’m relatively familiar with the teams in my area. I know whose nearby. So I’ve already compiled a list of teams. I’m looking at teams who may really be in need of FIRST experience, but now that I’m considering what Ed said, I’m reconsidering the team I was looking into mentor first. I may actually start out on a team that is already fairly well off, so I get the opportunity to learn a bit before I start looking into teams really in need.

I clearly still have some thinking to do. But thank you all for the input! I greatly appreciate all the help so far!

I’ll chip in with what little experience I have and agree with mentoring on a team that is already well off and experienced first. For me, it was hard starting off with a rookie team right off the bat. You start feeling too obligated and needed at every meeting, it becomes pretty stressful with a new team.

I have no experience with the larger more established teams, but the ones I know can always use more mentor help whether it is technical or not, experienced or not, etc. Sometimes all that is needed might be to have an extra person over 18yrs old to be in the area where the robot is being tested because those are the rules the school has set.

You are likely to be welcomed into any team even if for nothing more than being nothing more than being a warm body at first, and can find your own area of interest and expertise over time. And if you want to mentor in an area where you have no experience right now, even that may not be a problem. I am continually surprised that the students are sometimes just as good teaching the mentors as the other way around.

What is your area? I’m not picking on you, but does help to have a state and/or country in everyone’s location field - a city or school name alone means nothing to those outside your area.

Unless someone does that on purpose to remain more anonymous…

Does having graduated HS a year ago mean that you’ll be starting your second year of some kind of college in the Fall? If so, you should be warned that your academic responsibilities will soon start to noticeably ramp up. If you haven’t done so already, I recommend that you read the hugely helpful Think Before You Mentor thread from cover to cover.

Another difficult part of being a young mentor is developing adult relationships with the students and with other mentors. In this case, you’ll have an important advantage over folks attempting to mentor the same teams they were on as students: instead of trying to redefine your old relationships to fit your new role as mentor, you’ll have the chance to develop new ones.

Sorry. I fixed that. When I saw setting up my CD account 5-ish years ago, it didn’t seem that prudent. And I just never got around to changing it. I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but I read that as being kind of harsh… Still, no harm to foul :smiley:

I have given this a great deal of thought. Originally, I was going to wait until after college to start mentoring, but I realized I missed FRC too darn much to really make a realistic effort to stay away. I’ve got the bug.

However, thank you for the added consideration! I’ll definitely look this over (“cover to cover”). I’ll take any advice I can. I’m still not even sure if I really want to do this yet (I may want to wait until I transfer to my 4-year college so I’m in a more permanent setting), so I hope this will help me ease my mind on the subject.

Thanks again to everyone who has been contributing!

I was only in first 1 1/2 years before I decided to come back and be a mentor and I had zero expertise, Going on my third year im seeming to getting the hang of things.

1.) Time management- I assume your still in school? That comes first I remember thinking I could do both equally learned real fast I couldn’t school has to come first its more important.

2.)As for contacting a team you should honestly just do it whom ever you have in mind just contact them on the phone then meet in person attend some meetings and make your decision.

3.) Mentoring other teams, I do it within different seasons FLL in the fall and FRC in the spring. I do know people that help out multiple teams very well, like I said its all about that first one Time Management.

If you have all of the above understood I say go for it I really enjoy mentoring to see kids faces when they achieve from something they have worked so hard on is quite rewarding to me(Makes me feel all warm inside).

IMHO, any team should and definitely needs more mentors like yourself. When it comes to anything non-enginnering related, teams seem to need more help in those fields when it comes to awards, organization, competition scouting, ect. You might possibly find a team that might not have an exact place for you. However, if you can, establish a place for yourself on that team that really isn’t touched on and work off of that. Many teams will be very impressed if you come in with a decent strategy of how to incorporate a certain aspect that the current team doesn’t have.

It seems like you have teams nailed down and ready to approach. However, before making a decision, look at your strengths and compare them to the weaknesses you see on the teams that you are approaching. If you believe that you can be more successful with your strategies on one team instead of another then I would most likely join that team over the others. The other teams should take no offense to them since your skill set doesn’t really suit their needs.

Good luck in your aspirations!

Yep, just make sure grades come first.

One way to satisfy the itch while maintaining grades is to help full-time only on days where the build season and winter break coincide. Once the semester starts up again, cut back to 1 or 2 days a week max.

I absolutely will! For this season, I only helped out my old team whilst I was on break, and only then. I found it worked out quite well, and I feel I would certainly able to throw an extra day or so a week in there. I certainly understand that grades come first, and I will make sure the team leader of whatever team I go to understands that school comes first.