Our team desperately needs to find mentors. Over the last 15 years we’ve really been run by the same few core members. While that is great, we need to bring in more help.
I’ve begun reaching out on many forms. Reaching out to businesses directly, reaching out to program alumni, reaching out to social media forms, as the season kicks off for us we will reach out to parents.
What has been successful for you when recruiting? I know at some level its a very time consuming activity and certainly is not for everyone.
FYI - My team is Entropy 138 in Amherst, NH. Feel free to each out to me here or at jacaraccio at gmail if you are interested as well.
I know for 3630, we’ve had good luck recruiting from work or young new hires. Work places that help and encourage volunteering efforts is always a help.
good idea, thanks. Going to reach out to my companies FIRST coordinator tomorrow! (Not sure why I didn’t do that prior)
For us, it was initially our primary sponsor. Over time, that shifted to be more heavily lead by alumnae and parents.
I freely admit that 179 is an odd duck because we have never had to recruit mentors. Mentors keep showing up. In my opinion as someone who is an alumni and former mentor of a team who was not 179 but left said team and have now been on 179 for the majority of my time in FIRST the biggest advice I can give to how we keep on having this luck is: Be the team that you would want to join.
The most important thing for us has been to treat our students and the members of other teams (both students and mentors) with respect and honesty without falling into formality. No parent wants to help the extracurricular that their child isn’t gushing about. No alumni wants to come back if they didn’t enjoy their time on the team. No former member of another team will want to join your team if they didn’t like you when they were on that team. Finally most importantly by having every current member on the team showing this attitude new students pick up on it quick and mentors who show up from outside the program understand that you do not treat anyone as beneath you or less than.
This has lead to us having a rotating group of mentors over the years with many of them being parents who make sure to train a new parent on the job they do before their child graduates and if not sticking around for another year or so to do said training.
We had about 30 adults who were around however our core group of mentors in 2022 was:
Mentor who has been around since 1997
Mentor who has been around since 2000 (had a child on the team from 2012-2015)
Parent of students from 2008-2016 who continued to mentor
2 parents of students from 2012-2017 who continued to mentor
Alumni from 2007-2009 who continued to mentor
Alumni from 2012-2016 who continued to mentor
Alumni (2012) from another team who has mentored our team since 2014
Alumni (2005) from another team who has mentored other teams since graduating and started mentoring us this year
Alumni (2019) from another team who was going to mentor their former team but switched to us this year
Finally me an Alumni (2010) from another team who mentored my former team from 2011-2013 and has mentored 179 since 2014
The rest were ranging from: parents, to former mentors just checking on us after we were able to lessen Pandemic restrictions, to alumni stopping by to offer their help for a few meetings or a competition, to alumni from other teams stopping by to test the mentoring water with us or just being a ringer to assist in driver practice or scouting for a competition.
Point being we wouldn’t have had the group we did if we didn’t make sure that we treated every interaction like a “recruitment” remember you only have 1 chance to make a first impression.
If there is someone that can mentor build and is
in the Bay Area, please let me know.
We’re in the process of building a mentor pipeline from the local universities. In our case it’s mostly Vanderbilt, but we’re getting one from Fisk this year too.
We’ve been going word-of-mouth, but are planning to hang flyers in public spaces on those campuses. Make the FIRST logo really big, and go from there. Once you get one or two, try to get them to set up a FIRST mentor club on campus, and use that to get a steady flow over time.
I’ll also plug checking with 1) your FIRST Senior Mentor and 2) the mentor network.
I’m sure you’re aware, but it may be worth looking at how Purdue does some things for the Purdue FIRST Programs (or whatever it’s called nowadays). It was nice to get a one credit hr A and at least a little bit of organization getting from the university to finding a team to mentor.
177 pulls in alumni like no other team I’ve ever been a part of. We have 2 teachers in the district involved with or formerly involved with the team who are alums, and at least 8 current mentors who are post-college returning alumni, with several more in the pipeline. Other than that it is parents, UTC/Raytheon employees, and parents of alumni, as well as alumni of other FRC teams such as myself. Those parents and mentors in hiring positions often recruit new hires at their companies with 0 FIRST experience (who also happen to be sponsors).
It is very important to create these pipelines and a small ecosystem for any team to be sustainable.
The mentorship at 1895 has mostly been the same big 3 for a very long time. We still have 2 OG mentors, but new mentors that have joined along the way have mostly come as friend recommendations. My dad (now our team’s main software mentor) was recommended by a work friend to come and try out robotics back in 2015. He joined up with no prior knowledge of programming robots, and spent most of his first year learning how it worked from the seniors and alums. If any of your mentors know people with any sort of background or even just a little bit of prior knowledge in whatever field, try and get them in on a meeting! The cool thing about professionals is they are very good at learning stuff in their fields so as long as they are willing to pick up something new and deal with stinky teenagers then they’ll probably be fine.
However, another good options can be from local colleges/universities or businesses.
Most colleges will have some sort of program where students will do volunteer work in whatever field they are going into. If you can reach out to a local institution and put out that your team is in need of mentors, you’ll probably get a response. Businesses can be the same way too. Some of our alum mentors work at Lockheed Martin and use their professional experience to help teach the newer team members how to use the production machinery (that said, alums in general are always good resources too because of their experience specifically in FIRST).
There are all sorts of ways you can find new mentors if you are willing to reach out. If you or other teammates have parents in/retired from careers applicable to robotics, you should try and contact them too. One of our mechanical mentors is a student’s parent who had experience doing mechanical work on Navy ships and uses that knowledge to help students with assembling the metal parts and helping build our practice stuff each season.
Team 2869 has historically only had 1 or 2 teacher-mentors, but we do have excellent support from our parents. The parents lead the construction of our practice field and they organize food for meetings and events. We have some alumni come in during build season to offer advice, but only 1 or 2 and not regularly.
However, our team is extremely student-led and we prefer it that way. Honestly, we haven’t been looking for mentors, so we haven’t found any. A lack of mentors may not be a problem. We have students lead everything from training new members, to robot strategy, to building, to outreach and fundraising. Our mentors provide suggestions at most.
The main problems we have seen is that since we are a school team, we are not allowed to practice/build if one of the teacher-mentors is not present, which puts strain on (at least one) mentor to be free every day till 6-8 pm during build season. This has been lessened recently due to our return to having two teacher-mentors as well as an administrator who can open the lab.
Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I wish we were closer to colleges! I would continue reaching out to try and build the team.
5090 has no teacher mentors. As a FiM team we asked for a Ford engineering mentor 5 years ago and completely hooked him in. The rest of the mentors are either the parents of students (even when they graduate we stay - lol) or alumni that come back. We usually make alumni wait at least a year before they can come back and mentor.
At the first practice in September we have a short parent meeting to tell them all the general information about FIRST and our team. I will then ask for exactly what I need which we have found gets more parents to volunteer. Once we get them in to be “the parent in the room” we usually suck them in for years
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