Volunteering is Good for Your Career! - and how it relates to FIRSTers

So, I stumbled upon this article today:
Volunteering Can Boost Skills, Advance Careers

What did I think of right away after reading that article? FIRSTers, at every level, are adding something very unique to their resume by volunteering. But, not only do you need to be able to articulate the skills that you have acquired through volunteering, I would like to dig deeper and add specifically to FIRSTers (especially to the non-technically focused) that it is also crucial to have an “elevator speech” about FIRST handy.
Many a time have I been in interviews with companies, especially companies that already sponsor FIRST teams, and heard: “So…tell me about this FIRST thing…I’ve never heard of it before…”. Of course, on the inside I’m screaming, “What is wrong with you? You sponsor three teams!!!”, but on the outside I’m calmly giving my elevator speech about what FIRST is and about the skills I’ve gained through my experiences within the program.

I had an interview yesterday with a Product Manager who turned out to have volunteered with the Tyngsboro team in 2003 and knew exactly what I was talking about when it came to FIRST, but that’s not always the case. As teams, not only is it important to have our elevator speech ready for ourselves, but to articulate the program to all areas of the company so that everyone can see where their money is being donated.

As FIRST grows, if the percentages of “students going into science and technology majors” (which is at about half) paired with the high “percentage of graduates that want to work for a sponsoring company” stay relatively proportional to what they are now, FIRST involvement will be reaching into more areas of the company than ever before. And in the long run, it benefits ourselves because “that new-hire in Operations that used to do FIRST” is not only an easier sell to become a mentor for your team, but also has a signifigantly less steep learning curve because of their past experience.

So when you boil it down, what am I trying to say? Volunteering for FIRST is great on your resume, but there is sometimes a disjoint between the donation dollars of a company and the knowledge of the program throughout all areas of the company. As teams, we should not only prefect our “elevator speeches” if we run into this situation, but we can also be proactive in closing the gap by getting people fron all areas of the company involved.

“elevator speeches” are also handy to know well when you’re at an event and a reporter approaches you. Be prepared to give them a FIRST brochure AND your team brochure so they can get facts straight.

I just met with our VP for Human Resources (who came to watch my former team at a competition at my request) today about a Benefits question I had and we ended that conversation with a conversation about FIRST, FRC, FLL and JFLL, how the College could get involved, what my plans were for staying involved, how I’ve been impacted by the students I’ve had the honor to work with and how the FIRST program has impacted me, and the new skills I’ve learned which may end up coming into play at my job. And it all started with an elevator speech.

So… is anyone here in Human Resources that can suggest an effective way to positively communicate volunteerism on your resume’?

One agency I work with suggested I take the volunteering off of my resume completely. She said that was OK if I was just coming out of HS looking for a job, but not for a professional resume. :confused:

I beg to differ, and will end up leaving it on, but I need to strengthen it.

Any suggestions?

Clearly, no professional would ever be interested in knowing that we sometimes do in six weeks what they take years to do. :slight_smile:

FIRST is on my resume, and it isn’t coming off.

Although it DOES say:
Mentor and coach for a high school robotics team.

I can always explain FIRST in the interview if asked…

There are a lot of often conflicting opinions on what to put on a resume. Some will tell you, like the counsellor mentioned above, to keep it strictly professional, while others will say to beat your drum as much as possible.

I don’t know if there is a “right” way to do it, but when I have interviewed candidates, I’d rather have too much info than too little, as long as it’s clearly presented and relevant. I once hired a person because he told me his hobby was building and maintaining his salt-water aquarium. There were two other equally qualified candidates for the position, but the problem-solving skills and research he needed to do to make his aquarium work gave this guy the edge.

For what it’s worth, the last part of my resume reads:


Cybersonics Technology Team, FIRST high school robotics competition, mentor for design group, assist robot manufacturing group and scouting at competitions. My design group won the 2005 Autodesk Inventor Award with their computer aided design submission.

Girls Scouts of Freedom Valley, facilitator for “high ropes” team building aerial obstacle course.*

My advice is to have several different resumes that will highlight the skills for the particular job/company you are applying to. My last resume included a section on community activities including volunteer church work, because I was applying to a private Roman Catholic college and it fit their mission. Those things were mentioned in the interview. I might not include those activities on a resume going out to a large corporation, or I might word them differently. (As a side note, my boss did an Internet search on me before scheduling an interview and saw some of the things I was involved in… and I searched her on the Internet, too. I try and keep that in mind whenever posting something online - it can reflect on you years from now when trying to get a job - eeks, what will they read into me from my postings on CD!!!)

When I set up my resume, I did two versions. One was a chronological resume, the other was a technical resume. I took them to the career center at my school for advice on which one to use. As a result, the two types were combined. This meant that my experience that was relevant to an engineering position was used and all other jobs were placed under additional experience. What was relevant? Undergraduate Research and FIRST.

When I went in to an interview, I was asked about my research a little, as well as classes about robotics. Then I was asked about FIRST because part of the job that I was interviewing would require me explaining to technicians the procedures that I come up with. Thus, FIRST was completely relevant because it has been one of my jobs as a mentor/coach.

Worst advice I received from someone about my resume came two years ago when they said NOT to put down my English degree because I would pigeon-hole myself into a techical writing position. Everyone else I consulted about that has said to make sure I put it down. In the interview, all four people I met with loved the fact that I have an English degree, as they assume that it means I can write well.

Anyway, if you want a copy of my resume to see how I set it all up, send me an email. (No PMs as I rarely log in here.)