Monday, December 10, 2012

Ember Internships - 3 Tips for Mentoring

In the past 9 years, I have worked with a select group of students that we have deemed interns. The idea actually came from a high school student, but we loved it so much, it's now one of Ember's core offerings. We've had pretty good luck with most of them, but there have been a few of them that have the very best of intentions, but over the course of time, didn't engage with the process. Here's three things that have made the others successful - maybe this contextualize to your situation when it comes to mentoring the next generation.

1 - Identify the starters and sponges.
There are students that are starting things that have the same affinity as to what you are doing. Like you, they are interested in music, arts, landscape architecture. There are also students that are paying close attention to what you are doing. And I mean, very close attention. Find students in either groups of these and engage them at a deeper level. In our case, not every student is interested in global leadership. We find them at very specific circumstances - a service project is a good example in our case.

2 - Meet them where they are, but stretch them.
They make the commitment to be stretched. But sometimes, between school, sports, youth group activities, volunteer work, and being a part of a family, the internship is the last on the list. We've tried to be more adaptable on our end in terms of scheduling, availability and flexibility, while not losing sight of the end goal: they want to grow. This aspect of scheduling has been one of the most difficult - it is what our students live in today. Personal growth doesn't always depend on being at a specific event. Instead, find ways to foster your goal as a developer while helping them be successful at it.

3 - Have fun with them.
The interns I have worked with have been a blast. They put up with my lame jokes and are able to roll with our very dynamic plans - we never know what will happen for the internship too far in advance and plans are always moving [I kind of like it that way.] But we always have a great time together.

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