7 Ways to Be a Great Intern Mentor

Having decided to hire an intern, you now have the difficult job of getting them settled in at your company as fast as possible. After all, their time with you is limited. So how do you put your intern at ease and make them feel at home?

Setting each intern up with a mentor in their department is the best way to assimilate them into life at your company. This position is crucial, because an internship mentor can make or break the reputation of your program. Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-true tips for intern mentors that want to leave a lasting impression.

Start Your Intern Off Right
Even the most confident of interns will feel a little unsure to begin with. Make sure you give them a clear and concise list of what is expected of them, as well as company policies and rules, to start them off and give them a sense of structure.

At Microsoft, interns appreciate the efficiency of the program. “The internship program is obviously designed to fix any problems before they occur,” wrote one Microsoft intern. “I had very clear project expectations, lots of positive feedback, great working conditions, and excellent compensation.”

Introduce Your Intern
Bringing your intern into the fold is the quickest way to earn points as a mentor. Make sure your intern knows who to talk to if they have specific questions. Introduce them to anyone they might interact with on a daily basis or see around the office. A comfortable intern is a confident intern, and they will be grateful for the help fitting in.

Amazon interns really liked the atmosphere and were glad that they had “very supportive team mates who helped constantly raise the bar by asking the right questions and putting the foot down at the right time.”

Communication is Key
You are your intern’s first call if they have questions or concerns. Make sure you are both approachable and available. Give your intern a copy of your schedule so that they don’t have to question whether or not they can call. Also, make sure they have an alternative person to talk to if their question is urgent.

Hand Out Homework
Your intern is probably still operating on the grading scale instilled in them by the education system. Whether they should be reading a blog specific to your industry or making lists of new ideas, give them small assignments for outside the office to give them the chance to excel. Success on small things instills them the confidence to pour their all into the bigger projects you present them with.

Bring Your Intern To Work Day
Try to schedule some time out of each week to have your intern shadow you in your daily activities. This allows them to see how you interact with other employees and how you handle everyday situations. Take them to staff meetings or luncheons whenever possible.

At Google, interns have the chance to sit in on meetings and have frequent contact with higher-ups. And everybody knows how high Google’s internship program ranks in the polls.

Weekly Coffee Dates
Make a point to take your intern out for a low-stress interaction once a week. Ask them how they are fitting in, what they like most about working for your company, and if there is anything they need. The key is getting outside the office and onto neutral ground. This is a great way to keep your intern engaged and to deal with any issues before they become real problems.

Show Off Your Town
Chances are that your intern is not native to the city in which your company is located, and even if they are, they won’t know your company’s favorite lunch and coffee spots. Let your intern know about the best local shops, restaurants, sights and events around town.

Image provided by _tar0_ via Compfight cc

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Liz LeCrone

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuaharrell/ Joshua Harrell

    These are great suggestions. I can’t say that I am the world’s best intern mentor, but I do let them participate in everything I am working on at some level. I appreciate the extra help, but I love it when an intern asks “why”. It demonstrates that they are not only trying to learn how to do something, but that they’re really trying to figure out the purpose.