The focus of Mentor Our Kids is on helping Intern Program Coordinators (IPCs) increase the quality and quantity of mentoring internships so the company and the students have a high ROI on the program. (See www.MentorOurKids.org) Key to the process is the mentoring by company staff – who in may also be the IPC when no-one else is currently involved with recruiting, supervising and evaluating interns. (That’s how I managed my first interns!) Since many intern-supervisors may not have mentored before, let’s identify some ways Mentors can form “partnerships for learning” as Chip Bell calls it in Managers As Mentors.
Mentoring involves sharing valuable information on the context, roles, and practices of workers within the company. Mentors should focus on orienting the intern not only to his/her department and its staff, but also to the company in general and put their work in context. It also means understanding why the student took the internships – what the/she wants to learn and how it will help with career decision-making. In terms of supervising the intern, the “art” of mentoring means being a Socratic teacher: encourage the intern to stretch his/her technical, interpersonal and communication skills, and develop competencies to take on projects, work with teams, manage time, etc. in order to meet company standards. With social support and technical information, the Mentor can help the intern fit into the group and produce as a team member. It’s an art, because it involves caring about the student, while balancing the needs of other employees.
Since Mentors may feel challenged and want technical and informational support from other Mentors and experts. Mentor Our Kids has set up a LinkedIn group so Mentors can share experiences with IPCs and Mentors; Mentor Our Kids staff also will be available to answer questions. Feel free to call us for additional help and guidance. We’re all partners for learning!