How can alumni best support a team?

Hi! I am a past team captain of a team in a very low-income demographic, with community support being toward agriculture rather than tech. How can I best support this team that was a family of mine for the past few years? Does anyone have any other active alumni experiences? Thank you in advance!

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I’m not an alumni, but as the most senior and experienced member of my organization, I would say that mentoring and teaching concepts is the best way to help your team(s).
I wish I had one helping me along the way, but I didn’t. This is your chance to provide that for your club/team.

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@Got_a_Screw_Loose I am doing my best in that, but am also taking 16 units. Video chat has definitely been a tool we have used when things don’t go so well

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A couple guidelines/suggestions based on my experience on both sides:

  • Make yourself available by text, email, etc as a default; most (well thought-out) questions shouldn’t need a lot of dialogue to be answered, and this makes it easier to work with your student schedule
  • Be a helpful resource, but don’t get too attached to the team’s success. The best way to learn is by failure, so even if you see an upcoming problem they will face, don’t try to shield them from it; let them try to figure them out.
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I am actually an alumni of my old high school and now am in my 2nd year of assistant coaching. Really the only thing I can say without asking a bunch of other questions is really just sit back and make sure they are on track. It’s there job to learn and now yours to guide them, if they are stumped, help them out.

Now one question I do have for you tho is what does this team need that you can provide, I can give you better answers if that question makes sense.

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Unfortunately, the teams biggest struggle is active participation of members. We have approximately 15 people in the club, with about three people actively involved in the build. Its been like this the past few years, but the most involved members graduated in June.

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Yea I’m not sure how to help you out on that front, I’ve delt with people who do that sort of thing, and we just tell them that they won’t go to competitions unless the step up there game, but it sounds like in your case you only have one team.

This actually reminds me of a post I want to make about how to help combat uninvolved team members, so be on the lookout for that and maybe it can help you.

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One of the most important parts of a vex team is team dynamics. If u help with that once, it will carry on for the rest of the year.

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Maybe the problem is that not enough people know how to build the robot, or how vex works. In that case, I would advise having mini lessons to teach others. This will also weed out those who aren’t interested, because they’ll leave then.

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Thank you for the idea!

Just a little something to add on. If VEX is a class at the school (one of the 7 periods/8 blocks in a day, not a club), try to have more grades than participation. It usually attracts students because they want an easy A. Take out the easy A kids, and all that’s left is passionate who are willing to commit time and effort.

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Heh, if you dont want to be there, chances are your gonna have a really bad time. Its no fun building a bot when you dont know what’s going on.

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As the coach and lead mentor for my VRC/FRC teams, I do want alumni to come back and help… BUT I prefer that they stay away or mentor at a distance until they graduate from their University. Summer lectures/mentoring of what they learned and volunteering on weekends for events we host are also things we value. I personally want my students to go out and learn from others before coming back so they have a different view/perspective on how teams are run, how the design process works and how we can do things a little differently to improve.

For now, you can help with logistics, sponsorship, maybe try your hand at grant writing. For VRC I like the mentor-ship to be hands off unless there is a specific need for help (Like a mechanism doesn’t work and they’ve been trying for days/weeks to come up with a solution).

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Just mentor your team, in my case I became the Assistant Coach for my former team.

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  • Make yourself available for questions (text, email, discord whatever)

  • Help them with strategy development

  • Help them with general building and programing questions

  • If your organization hosts events volunteer at them (please!)

Just remember that you are no longer on the team, and now that you’re not a student, your contribution needs to be that of a mentor (per RECF Guidelines)

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