How do you best prepare to mentor an intern? The following are some key tips to help new mentors with these changes to their role.
Mentoring is essential for a successful internship. The mentor provides support and helps with problem solving. They should be familiar with the intern’s work, maybe part of the same team. The intern may not have any previous industry experience or perhaps even any experience in a professional environment; this means that your mentoring will require time, commitment and skill as you provide support, knowledge and tasks for the intern’s development. Mentoring can be a great professional development opportunity, too.
Be ready to welcome your intern and get to know them. Interns may be apprehensive and you will be their key support person! Make them feel part of the team. Daily check-ins are valuable in the first few weeks, these may drop to weekly once the intern gets into the rhythm of their work. It can also help if you explain to them how their work fits into the wider business, therefore helping them understand the importance of their work.
Mentors help interns solve technical problems with advice and guidance. Make sure interns are aware of any resources, training materials or documentation that may be useful to them. Some organisations assign a “buddy” as well as a mentor, to help with other questions. The buddy is usually a peer, perhaps another recent newbie who can give tips on navigating as a first time employee.
Encourage critical thinking and questions. Check in with your intern about what they need from you. Your intern should feel safe to ask simple questions and express any concerns. Be clear about your expectations, and let them know how they’re progressing towards the milestones.
While you can expect your intern have a good level of knowledge and skill, they are likely to be inexperienced and have plenty to learn. Individual learning preferences may vary, and can be through observing, reading, or doing. It’s the practical experience that will be of most value during their internship.
Your intern should feel like a valuable addition to your team and that you trust them to do a good job, and that you will support them during their time with you. Giving them meaningful work which is engaging will help your intern to feel valued.
Constructive feedback is a key part of working with your interns to develop their professional skills within your company and for future roles. Be careful to give feedback in a way which will help the intern grow.
This resource was designed and compiled by interns sourced through Summer of Tech 2017.