I'm now leaving this episode of FIRST with a much better idea of how to communicate, lead, and plan projects. I now have also have some confidence. It takes guts to publicly shame yourself as many times as I do a year. Engineers are not known for their eye-hand coordination or dancing skills. FIRST has also shown me I'm a project manager. I never would have seen myself in this role until I kept ending up there.
Finally, FIRST has also given me the best network I will ever have. I now have contacts in almost every city I could move to when I "grow up". The judges have coached me on interviewing; they've helped me make connections, and are training me on how to shape a career still on the launch pad. Overall, I feel like I'm very well set up to start a job.
I really have learned a lot from this experience. But, no FIRST final event would be complete without a list. So here it is:
Things I have Learned from FIRST
0) Given enough caffeine, almost anything is possible.
1) a. Make friends, they will help you later. Be it getting VIP passes, or a place to stay, friends are great people.
1) b. if you happen to have the wrong name on the VIP pass you're using, it is highly unlikely anyone will notice; even if it is the name Paul and you happen to be female.
2) Get a little, give a little. 5 copies of the pit map can win you a lot more than you think.
3) Never admit you have resources that include a printer.
4) Most high level engineers are really little kids at heart. There is always enough room to play Frisbee inside and get the "stop playing games in the house" look from the judge adviser.
5) Adults are more intense than kids, most of the time.
6) The things that make you look powerful (radios) get annoying. People think you know what you're doing.
7) a. You eventually get over embarrassing yourself in front of large crowds of people
7) b .You cannot delete every single embarrassing picture, so learn to live with them.
8) a. Any event where you do not end up on the floor of the event office debating a nap is a good one.
8) b. Any event where they use your correct name (even you've screwed up) over the radio, is also a good one. It means the know who you are. (Reference: "Judge Judy")
9) Grappa does not stop tasting like lighter fluid, even after the first sip.
10) As Colin says: sleep is for wimps.