Sort of unrelated to the thread, but this is screwed up as a thing we’re “okay” with as a society in a race to the bottom. The whole assigning people into boxes based on what they’ve done and can list in text on a resume (See: the classic Eagle Scout example*). It shouldn’t take too much effort to assess critical thinking in a non-biased way.
Obviously, First programs and related are a decent vehicle to acquire those skills that are valued in society, but it’s important to avoid the whole “FRC = smart kiddo” path employers seem to enjoy oversimplifying to constantly. Then again, hiring seems to be a RNG a decent chunk of the time. I’ve definitely seen resume padding like FRC get people into places they “shouldn’t” have.
something something, break the cycle.
Not being accusatory, except maybe towards said employer as they’ve been presented. Mine have mostly done the same thing.
*I say this as an Eagle Scout
A decent bit now, thanks. 7th employee at a 250+ company.
I agree, FRC kids rock. Picking out FRC on a resume and automatically putting it in the “good candidate” pile without too much thought does not rock. I have seen that, and I’ve almost done it. It would have been a mistake.
This is the key. As a student or alum of the program, it can be hard to distill your role and impact in FIRST into just a line or two. Employees, though, can see FIRST and know the questions to ask.
In every interview I’ve ever had, my FIRST experience has come up. Most of the time, the interviewer hadn’t heard of FIRST, but it was interesting enough that they wanted to learn more with every answer I provided.
In my experience, above all else, it’s a conversation starter.
This really really bothers me and worries me. It smacks of elitism that makes STEM and FIRST unavailable to the people who need it most. The kid on a rookie inner city team, that manages to field a box bot is just as deserving of an internship and interview as the kid that manages to live in your zipcode and contributes after their parents drop bank on Java Camps/endless opportunity.
Have you considered that treating your robotics team explicitly as a hiring pipeline for your own company might be a conflict of interest and an abuse of power?
To be clear: I am not saying you should not hire FIRST students. I am saying that there needs to be some thought here, because it is not trivial to do this ethically.
Note also that tech workspaces typically have plenty of representation for the latter background, and not very much representation for the former. From an ideological diversity standpoint, this is far from ideal.
I don’t think Mike’s point was about the resources of a team. Some teams simply take the competition more seriously than others – at all resource levels. Plus, students within a team aren’t equal either. If a student drive the development of nothing to a driving box or they drove the development of an already good program to a great one, they still project managed their team to success and would be a great candidate for a role.
That said, if a role is for a specific skill for which a company seeks previous experience, you may see the same inequity we see everywhere in the job market. If the employer wants the employee to have experience using a CNC machine, the reality is that the student from the team that has a CNC in their shop is better positioned than a student from one that doesn’t.
We can have a conversation about employers demanding experience of their entry level workers, but this is hardly unique to FRC alumni.
Hard truth: nobody cares that you did FIRST, something which may be shocking to those still in high school. Honestly, no one really cares about what you do nearly as much as they care about how you did it.
I cannot disagree with a statement more. Having FIRST experience for me was what sealed the deal on me getting a 16 month internship as a Mechanical EiT - the hiring manager had a kid on an FRC team so he knew that I had a solid foundation of skills. Many others on my team have received job placements directly due to their experience caused from being on an FRC/FTC team.
Obviously there are caveats. If you do nothing on your team and only have it for resume padding, then no one will care.
Back to the OP - there’s no program around me that is nearly as effective at allowing me to share my STEM based passions and get kids excited about it. But I have, and will, continue to be open about when I am not enthused with decisions being made by HQ/higher ups. Also agreed with things mentioned by Jared above re: being open to not attending certain events/partaking in certain aspects of the program depending on decisions made by others.
I went to a technical job interview (which I got), and although I had my resume packed with stuff like academics and other school clubs, FIRST was the main thing we talked about.
But I’m not sure this is what you mean. Do you mean no one cares that the robotics program you were in is FIRST specifically, but rather they care about what you did on your robotics team?
Because that is accurate. If you do very little for your FIRST team, you have far less value than someone who did, say, VEX and made important contributions.
I’m leaving FRC for a bit, because I don’t have time to do college and FIRST at the same time. I hope to be back once I graduate. The only thing that would make me quit for good is if I felt I didn’t have any impact/contribution on my team.
My observation is that people will look at FRC experience when you are applying for your first internship, but it is very quickly superseded by professional experience. Still good for getting a foot in the door though.
If you’ve personally worked with a kid for years on your robotics team, are you really going to be able to accurately judge their technical talents compared to those of an external applicant? Familiarity bias is huge.
I think there are some dangers here. It’s easy for power dynamics to be invisible, and it’s easy to overlook how a system in which no one is trying to be unfair can, regardless, end up doing things that are unfair.
I’m not trying to accuse anyone in particular of unfairness - but the dynamic highlighted here is one that rings all sorts of alarm bells for me.
Having my mentor/volunteer experience with FIRST on my resume has definitely had an impact. With my current job, I ended up spending half an hour of my interview talking with my (now) boss about FIRST, as his son was on a team. That not only turned into a job, it included and extra week of vacation to help account for the volunteer time, and it led (a couple years later) to the company sponsoring the team each year.
One of my former students (who is now a mentor) got her first internship as a direct result of her FIRST experience.
Having FIRST on your resume isn’t going to hurt you, and it may help - so do it!