We recently shared a post on how to find an intern for your practice. Once you have him or her join your team, it's important to develop a working relationship. Oftentimes, internships incorporate professional development in addition to completing daily job tasks. This week, we're taking a look at an important piece of working with students and early-career professionals: mentorship. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Have a plan... and know theirs
It's important to know what you want your interns to accomplish during their time with you. It's also a great idea to take some time with them up-front to learn about their future career goals, both short and long-term. Then, you can work together to ensure that the experience is as enriching and productive as possible on both sides.
Depending on the number of interns you take on, you may wish to formalize workshops. During those sessions, you can practice interview skills, presentations, resume-writing skills, and more with your interns to help them achieve their growth goals.
2. Feedback is love
After your initial meeting, make sure to check back in with your mentee regularly. Find a time that works for both of you and build it into your schedules. During these check-ins, try to understand your interns' experience. Ask them to share what is going well, what has been challenging, and what they hope to accomplish.
A good foundation will build quickly into a thriving working relationship. During these one-on-ones, also emphasize that you're open to feedback. Encourage your interns to make their voices heard and incorporate some of their ideas into your programming or mentorship.
3. Be a team
Similarly, you'll want to take steps to ensure group cohesion. If you have more than one intern, they'll very possibly remain colleagues in the future. Therefore, in addition to work, you may partake in team-building activities. These can be one-off activities such as a group ropes course or retreat, or more subtle things such as team potluck lunches, happy hours or a book club. These are great ways to build a team and have some fun while you're at it!
Whether this is your first time or your hundredth time working with people who are new to your field, it can be a wonderful experience to meet enthusiastic, new future colleagues. When in doubt, think back to some of your favorite past supervisors. What attributes stand out in your memory? Likely, these characteristics are hallmarks of a good mentor-mentee relationship.
Do you have any tips or favorite stories to share with our community? Add them to the comments below!