Written by Ilene Rein
Job Search Strategist & Executive Recruiter
Discussing Your FIRST® Experience During A Job Interview
You have devoted countless hours of your time and energy to FIRST®. You have experienced the full range of emotions throughout your build and event season and should be incredibly proud of what you've achieved!
During our previous career segments, we explored how your FIRST experience applies to the professional world and how this experience can assist you in landing your STEM dream job.
We also discussed ways to increase your visibility to Recruiters by including the FIRST logo on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and Tallo account. Adding the FIRST logo will increase your chances of getting noticed.
Now, let's discuss how to talk about your FIRST experience during job interviews to land your dream STEM job.
Participating in FIRST illustrates to potential employers that you are committed to achieving the highest standards of excellence, are capable of collaborating with others, and will go the extra mile when problem-solving. By discussing your FIRST experience, you can effectively demonstrate that you possess the exact skills employers seek in candidates.
I will walk you through how to explain your FIRST experience step by step in detail…
Start by explaining what FIRST is.
If you are asked about FIRST, and the interviewer has yet to hear of the organization, start by giving a brief overview of FIRST and its mission.
Here are the exact words that you should use:
- FIRST is the world's leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education.
- The organization was founded over 30 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people's interest in science and technology.
- FIRST combines the rigor of STEM learning with the fun and excitement of traditional sports and the inspiration that comes from the community through programs that have a proven impact on learning, interest, and skill-building inside and outside of the classroom.
Talk about your FIRST experience and what you learned.
Now that you have given an overview of FIRST and its mission, go into further detail about your own experiences with FIRST and how it has impacted you.
Focus on your acquired skills and how they will benefit your potential employer. Highlight the impact FIRST has had on your ability to think critically, solve complex problems and apply what you have learned in the classroom. Explain how your FIRST experiences are similar to the tasks of the job and how you can make an immediate contribution and be an asset to their team.
If you have been a PARTICIPANT…
- Discuss your role on your FIRST team and what you learned from the experience.
- For example, if you were in charge of engineering the robot's chassis, share your design journey and how you addressed any issues encountered and how you addressed them.
- If you were the business manager, discuss your experience managing the accounting and strategy for future team growth and sustainability.
- Describe the precise measures you took to develop these projects and the metrics leading to success.
If you have been a MENTOR…
- Discuss the tasks you assisted with and how your FIRST experience helped foster an interest in engineering and world impact.
- For example, maybe you taught robotics principles and provided encouragement to help the team succeed in construction and competition.
- Or, perhaps you were mentoring on writing essays or making an impact in community outreach.
- You could discuss how the skills you used to mentor—such as problem-solving, communication, and teaching—can be applied to many job settings.
If you have been a VOLUNTEER…
- Talk about how you gained valuable experience by collaborating with professionals and participating in the various tasks necessary to ensure a successful FIRST event.
- Continue by explaining how you expanded and refined your knowledge and developed skills that will serve you throughout your career and life.
- For example, you can talk about how you were responsible for preparing the arena for matches or managing communications between teams and referees. Through those tasks, discuss how your technical abilities and skills were improved and how you effectively collaborated with other professionals as a team.
Describe how you applied your FIRST experience to projects or jobs.
After sharing your FIRST experience, explain how you used the knowledge and skills acquired to complete various projects or jobs. For instance, you may have reused the same design software on a later project. You may have leveraged the team-building aptitude you learned while constructing a robot to achieve success on a school assignment or within an organization.
Discuss any awards or recognition you received through FIRST due to your work and participation.
Celebrate and share your successes with the world! If you or your team have been awarded any accolades by FIRST, proudly showcase them! Sharing these achievements will show any hiring manager that you are a successful individual, inspired by STEM and devoted to improving the world.
Emphasize the teamwork and collaboration skills you developed as a part of FIRST.
Joining FIRST cultivates valuable teamwork and collaborative skills and assures employers you have what it takes to succeed in their company. When discussing your background with potential employers, emphasize these skills, as they will make you stand out from the other applicants. Demonstrating and highlighting your skills to hiring managers will help you stand out from the competition when applying for job openings.
Discuss your commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
One of the most inspiring aspects of FIRST is that it connects people from all different parts of society and around the world. By mastering how to collaborate with individuals from different cultures, you can use your unique experience and the strengths each offers for your mutual benefit to achieve success. During a job interview, emphasize how your past FIRST experience working with people of different ages, lifestyles, and backgrounds has refined your communication and teamwork abilities. Having these experiences will be essential in any professional environment.
Connect the dots for the Recruiter, explaining how you would be a valuable asset to any company because of your FIRST experience.
After discussing your extensive FIRST experience, you can express with extreme confidence that with all the knowledge and expertise you acquired in FIRST, you would be an invaluable addition to any company. Presenting potential employers with a positive impression of your qualifications will make it more likely that they will offer you an opportunity at their company!
As you can see, by participating in FIRST, you can gain an advantage when interviewing for jobs. Impress potential employers with your FIRST accomplishments, accolades, and proficiencies to demonstrate that you possess the necessary capabilities to thrive in their industry and at their company.
With the right attitude and determination, you'll have that extra competitive edge in your STEM career pursuits!
Having a background in FIRST could be the very distinction that will make you stand out amongst other job candidates, increasing your odds of securing your ideal position.
We’ll have more blogs and videos over the next month - be sure to keep an eye out and catch up on what you missed!
- How to Turn Your FIRST Experience Into Your STEM Dream Job
- Do this NOW to Increase Your Visibility to Employers
Good luck with your job search!
Written by Ilene Rein
Job Search Strategist & Executive Recruiter
Pounding Pavement 101
Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ilenerein/