When joining a FIRST team, in addition to feeling excited to get involved, it’s pretty natural to feel overwhelmed by everything going on and all the information being blasted in your face, maybe intimidated because most people seem to know what they’re doing so much more than you do, and slightly confused by all the FIRST-related or technical jargon casually thrown around on a daily basis. Including the first build season and getting used to working in close quarters with your teammates, the sheer volume (both number and sound) of people also comes as a shock.

With these conflicting emotions and fears, gaining the confidence to volunteer for a project, contribute updates during wrap up, trying to meet new people during competitions, or really do anything besides follow basic orders in the shop and make antennae can be difficult. It’s important to develop the confidence to participate, though, in order to get the most you can out of the FIRST season.

The best way to get confident working in the shop is to get familiar with the equipment and techniques. Most of this comes through experience. Watch seasoned team members work (but don’t get in the way), ask questions, and work with others. If you’re really anxious to learn, do outside research, on equipment and on the rules of the game. Working with the PR team, your confidence is a little different; depending on what you want to do, but can include learning about photography/video, web design, advertising and business protocol, and team activism and history. Knowing a part of what you’re talking about, or at least knowing in general what’s going on is probably the biggest confidence booster, and it will help you not only get involved, but get involved productively! Basic confidence at competitions can come by just remembering that everyone is there for the same reason: you all love robots and want to see your teams compete (and do well). That common ground should probably get some conversation going.

Of course, self-confidence (emphasis on the “self”) can’t be discounted. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, volunteer for work, or just approach friendly-looking people in the pits or stands at competitions. When all else fails, just remember you’re awesome, and show genuine interest.

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