Hi, everyone! My high school’s freshman orientation is in just shy of two weeks from now, and the robotics team will have a table. Does anybody have any tips as to how to recruit the most new students there? Obviously we’ll bring our robot for demoing and maybe a blue banner, but I don’t know what else.
Have the robot on and making some noise. That always works. Make sure the people there can explain what you do. If you have any backup subsystems that could also be cool to bring. I know we have a portable hanger so we are going to bring that to ours
Flashy, shiny, techology stuff. Fliers and binders of an example of your awards submission. Team colors and branding, a nice tablecloth if you have it.
Be enthusiastic and emphasize how anyone can contribute.
Collect emails and email people right after the event, and again right before the first meeting you want them to attend.
Make it look as exciting and approachable as you can. Have your elevator pitch ready! Fart skittles the whole time you give it.
I highly recommend you have people take a pic of a flier if you have them instead of printing a bunch out and handing them out. They tend to be shoved in folders or backpacks and are unlikely to be seen again. Maybe even get a QR code link to a site, social media, etc.
Make sure there is something fun and engaging for all the new recruits to do. Otherwise, few will still be around in January.
At Championship we had no flyers. More sustainable. A QR code was placed on the table that drove people to a web page for more information.
Have some safe components on the table that students can pick up.
idk if this is a given, but have people with a friendly face/approachable run the booth, people are more likely to come up and ask about joining
If possible, have a display with visuals of what competition is like, non-competition experiences during competition trips, experiences at outreach events, etc. This helps emphasize the human connections and camaraderie to complement all the technical aspects of being on the team. Having a banner to emphasize “more than robots” could also be helpful. The robot itself will attract a certain type of student, but making it clear at a glance that there are roles for project management, sponsor outreach, graphics and video production, photography, web site development, or whatever “beyond robot” roles you team has will help attract students with those kinds of interests.
We’ve used QR Codes in the past. Although we’ve never placed components on a table; I do think that it is worth looking into!
I would also have some “safe tools” like an allen wrenches - and take something apart or have students watch someone take something apart - how many students in your high school know how to use tools or a volt meter if they were not in FIRST or in a shop?
Make a large sign or flyers where you articulate that you’re not just looking for engineers. Lots of students might not walk up to a robotics booth because they think all it is engineering robots. Maybe they’re a graphic designer, web developer, project manager, fundraiser, writer, organizer, or anything else.
Recruiting is the most important time to articulate the “more than robots” message.
If you’re able to, demo the robot? I can speak on behalf of 1538 when I say there’s nothing more successful in acquring new members than to show them the true beauty of the “sport.” In my experience, new students like to see the product before they commit all the time to it. If you aren’t able to demo, definitely display some sort of awards/recognitions both inside and outside of FIRST. Whether that be community service (always a good choice) or an event you hosted/helped host or setup, tell people about it! Also, make sure you have a way to gather interest… You can reach out to interested people and offer answers to questions or just act as a liaison to show/tell them what it’s all about.
sort of re-iterating information that’s stated or hinted at above.
- like any good outreach event - you need students at your booth that aren’t afraid to initiate the conversation. If the folks at the table wait for people to come up to ask a question about what’s going on, you may not get many sign ups. The folks at your table shouldn’t be afraid to go up to people and ask questions like “Do you have any questions about a robot?” “Are you interested in developing public speaking skills?” “Do you want to learn how to use power tools?” etc. They shouldn’t all be questions about the robot.
- Either have a way that they can sign up to get more information or collect contact information (if you’re allowed) and make sure they understand this isn’t a commitment. It can be a piece of paper, a computer/ipad with a survey they can fill out, whatever. You just want some way to email them 1-3 times to let them know when the schedule is for the future. If you rely on them to look into a schedule without a reminder in the future, you’ll get fewer students as well
- lots of people will initially feel “I don’t know how to build a robot so this club isn’t for me”. You’ll want to have some flyer, or at least train your students at the booth, that helps re-enforce you can come in knowing nothing, and that’s there’s roles on the team for people that want to help with media, marketing, business, etc
- In 2016 or so I spliced together a few of my favorite reveal videos and the morgan freeman video to have on display so passerbys could see the variety in robot design and challenges.
Definitely off-topic (sorry for that ) but I’d totally forgotten this video existed, let alone how awesome it is. Here’s a link for anyone who wants to rewatch it (or see it for the first time). Would really recommend if you have 3 spare minutes.
This is less a thing for student orientation and more for the preseason-if your team is going to any fall offseasons bring as many new people as you can so they can see what the team is working towards in the end, and will hopefully make the people on the fence want to stay
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