Back in 2017, during my first ever FLL team meeting, my mentor said to me, “The more you give to it (FIRST), the more you’ll get out of it”. I didn’t truly understand the meaning of this till today when I was reflecting on my FIRST experience. It wasn’t long ago – just 5 years earlier – when I was that reluctant and timid girl who hid backstage at the FLL regionals. That girl certainly had never envisioned spending five years enthusiastically through FLL, FTC and FRC.
I believe that my journey epitomises the journey of every FIRST participant - a magical journey of the transformation that happens when one discovers the passion called FIRST!
The most important lesson I learnt was in my first year of FRC. We had spent an entire year preparing – the robot was ready to go, our journals all printed, and our essays ready to be submitted. And then the pandemic struck like a bolt from the blue and the competition was cancelled. Although disheartened, I didn’t regret a thing. It was all still worth it! Every second of it! FIRST is not just a competition, it’s a learning experience. It’s the journey that matters.
My advice – make the most of this journey. Immerse yourself in the FIRST experience. Try your hand at construction. Involve yourself in coding. And don’t forget outreach! I often see students overlooking outreach, but I promise you it is so fulfilling that your FIRST experience would not be complete without it.
Enjoy yourself. While the work in FRC can sometimes be overwhelming and intimidating (building an industrial grade robot as a high school student surely is a daunting task!), you should foster an environment that is positive and stress free. Let your passion be the driving force. Take initiatives, volunteer to lead projects, and don’t be afraid to fail. Treat challenges as opportunities to learn.
See your teammates as your friends. I have forged some of the strongest bonds with my FIRST friends. If at any point you think you need support, find it within this FIRST community. Strive to create a friendly and approachable working environment knitted with efficient and effective communication.
The last bit from my side – start early and stay consistent. Continued participation in FIRST year after year will give you the maximum rewards – you will see yourself grow through the experience, both as a STEM student and as a person.
Trust me, FIRST is an experience like no other. Just give it your best and enjoy the journey!
This blog was written by Aarna S. of FRC team 7539, Elev8. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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