Ask Tim

Championships Season

Executive Director Tim Lawrence has known SkillsUSA as a student member, instructor, industry partner and state director. Got a question? He can help.

Q: My instructor wants me to go
to the SkillsUSA Championships. I’m interested, but getting ready is a lot of extra work. Why should I?

Tim: Contests test your skills against the latest industry standards and are a great opportunity for personal growth. I know that from experience. As a welding student in 1969, I went to my state conference. I wanted to win and make my instructor proud. It was a tough contest and I didn’t bring home a medal, but my competition certificate still hangs on my wall. That was a life-changing day for me.

Contests quickly illuminate what you’re good at and where you need to improve.

I did my best but had problems with one unfamiliar task. I didn’t win, but I found new confidence in my technical abilities. When we entered the competition site, the mayor, industry representatives and state education officials welcomed us. Even at 17, I knew these people would not be there if the event wasn’t important.

That day, I also made contacts that led to my first job in the manufacturing industry. My contest experience confirmed that my talents not only had meaning to me, but also to other people.

If you’re competing, there are ways to ensure your best performance. Know what the gold standard is, and practice your skills relentlessly. Get the rules for your event, and comply in terms of clothing, tools and preparation. If possible, contact last year’s winner to ask about the contest. Find out if it will include an interview, presentation or written test — these skills also have to be strong.

Then, on contest day, relax and be confident in your skills. Ask questions of your technical committee and learn all you can. You may even network your way to a future position.

Joshua Boschee, a silver medalist in the 2001 World Skills Competition, wrote me recently that he got a great job with a major automotive manufacturer because its executives saw him train and compete under pressure. They saw he had not only technical ability but also leadership skills and a good attitude. I hope you’ll follow Josh’s example and let our championships program open doors for you.

The difficulty of your contest may determine who wins a medal, but it’s your attitude that will determine what you carry away from the experience. Best of luck to all our competitors at every level this year. Please write and tell me about your experiences. I’d love to hear from you. End of story

Got questions about SkillsUSA or other topics? E-mail or send a letter to SkillsUSA / P.O. Box 3000 / Leesburg, VA 20177. Put “Ask Tim” in the subject line or mail address.

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SkillsUSA Champions | Winter 2003 | Volume 37, No. 2
Copyright ©2003 SkillsUSA. All rights reserved.