Summer of Tech‘s unique program requires each company to assign a mentor for their interns. Mentorship provides technical, professional and personal support to the intern, who may have never worked within a professional environment. The mentor should be a part of the same team/area the intern will be working within, to ensure their knowledge and expertise is available at all times. Mentorship is a fantastic opportunity for yourself or your employees to gain leadership skills and to further their professional development.
How best to support your intern?
But what is the best way to support an intern? It’s tricky to find the balance between neglecting and babysitting, so be careful not to provide just enough help, whilst letting the intern learn and make mistakes themselves. Silverstripe intern Massey Isa’ako believes failure is integral to success, as the learning experiences involved in failure are vital to a developers’ growth. The supportive environment provided by Silverstripe meant Massey has been comfortable making mistakes, and understands how this is a great way to learn.
Creating this type of supportive environment is important, so your intern can not only make their own mistakes, but feel comfortable asking any question – even if it may be a seemingly simplistic one. The level of knowledge between interns can be varied, so it’s best to understand their level of understanding before glossing over details you may find easy. Find out how your intern prefers to learn – whether this is visual, hands on or otherwise. This will ensure the time you spend educating is worthwhile, as you need to speak their language in order for your teachings to be effective.
Expectations, trust and rapport
Clear expectations will allow your intern to understand the importance of their work, and what they are achieving. Creating a set of shared goals between intern and mentor is a great way to outline this from the get-go. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions are necessary, as it will help the intern grow and understand where they’re positioned in terms of new learnings and goals.
Building trust and rapport with your intern is important, to ensure they will come to you with any concerns they may have during the internship. It’s a good idea to have another trusted colleague for the intern to speak to, if they feel they can’t share with their mentor.
Some final words
Finally, don’t forget to make sure your intern feels valued. This is a learning experience to ensure they gain industry-relevant skills – so give them meaningful work, and make sure they understand how this fits into the organisation’s bigger picture. They may fit into the organisation so well you decide to keep them!