Five Easy Ways to be the Best Mentor for Your Intern
It is common for host companies to come to us and ask how they can maximise the intern’s experience and be the best possible mentors. To date, Performance Careers have placed over 11,000 students into work integrated learning (internship) placements and I was able to reflect on and recall what makes a great mentor. Here are 5 attributes that make a mentor stand out to their students.
1. Make sure you are the right mentor for the student
Sounds simple? Mentors can have the best intentions but if you are simply too busy you may not be the best person to mentor an intern. Consider whether you have enough time and if not, delegate the mentor role to another person in your team. It can be a great developmental tool for a junior member of the team who would like to build on their leadership skills.
2. Introduce your intern
As a mentor you are in a great position to inspire and lead. You also have great connections within your organisation which are invaluable to an intern. Interns, especially those where English is a second language, can sometimes find it challenging to network within an organisation and therefore your personal introductions will be invaluable. It is super easy for you to do and super important for an intern.
3. Communicate how you wish to be communicated with
Be clear with your intern about the best ways they can communicate with you. Would you prefer a daily catch up? Should the intern check in with you every couple of hours? Is email the best way for you to answer questions or do you prefer face-to-face interactions? Be clear about what is going to work best for you and your intern.
4. Give constructive criticism
A work integrated learning placement is essentially a huge learning curve and although your intern will appreciate positive feedback (as we all do!) they will also need to know what they can improve on. The best mentors are not afraid to deliver constructive feedback and understand that interns particularly need guidance to grow and develop. Our interns really appreciate the opportunity to learn and develop through constructive criticism so please do not be afraid to give this.
5. Share your story
As a mentor you are in a great position to inspire interns as they start their professional careers. They will be hungry to learn and keen to know possible career paths open to them. Please share your story with your intern. Tell them about the previous roles before your current role, what has worked well for you in your career journey and what you might’ve done differently.
Interns are typically experiencing their first taste of the workplace and would be new to a lot of things that we often take for granted. Through these 5 simple things you can help to make them feel comfortable and enhance their learning experience.
Hosting interns are a win-win for both the host company and intern. Interns get to learn and experience the professional workplace, while host companies can increase their diversity initiatives, nurture the future workforce, provide mentoring and leadership development opportunities for their team and more. Find out how you can become a host company with Performance Careers.
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