blog | 4min Read
Published on February 12, 2022
Internships are all about exploring, learning and developing skills and interests. But at the same time each place you work in has a different work culture, and diverse employees. A number of factors contribute to successful and good internship experience (read our guide to Internships For High School Students). One of the key ones being a good mentor, someone who works in liaison with you, guides you, gives you valuable feedback and helps in your personal growth. In fact, it is advised that high schoolers be engaged in mentorship programmes to unlock their potential and build a successful career. Here’s why.
I can say with confidence that right through high school and the course of several internships what made the most difference to my growth and development was the mentors I found. These mentors were important stepping stones in my journey to learn, and they not only guided me but pushed me to reach my potential. They gave me the confidence to achieve my goals and shared their experiences.
Who Is A Mentor ?
“Mentors are not those who walk ahead to show you how they did it, but rather walk alongside you to show you what you as an individual can do.”
Mentorship itself is a long – standing concept introduced to enhance human development, and several organisations, universities and more opt for mentorship programmes to ensure the best results from their students and employees. Internships generally entail a more informal mentor, who is your point of contact throughout the internship, who you report to and work directly under. Not everyone can be a good mentor, some people though intellectual and with great experience are not equipped with the skills to pass on that knowledge.Therefore there exist certain qualities a good mentor must possess.
How To Recognise A Good Mentor ?
1. A Guide For Personal Development
Starting with the enthusiasm and ability to share their experience, knowledge and learning with their mentee. They must possess the interest to guide, and invest time in another person’s development. This is similar to the idea that maybe a lot of us are football fans and know everything about it, but not all of us can play.
2. Fruitful Feedback
Stemming from this eagerness is also the need to be a patient and respectful critique. Mentors more than often serve as the first point of contact and thus give both good and bad feedback. This exchange of feedback must not be too harsh as to steal away the mentee’s morale, nor should it be a lie and inaccurate reflection of their work. A mentor must give you a chance to learn, through trial and error, allow space for mistakes and walk the middle path between leniency and harsh criticism.
3. Spectator & Speaker
Furthermore, a mentor should be a balanced listener and speaker. A mentor must not come off as a preacher, or simply keep imparting knowledge. Instead the mentor should actively listen to the mentees personal thoughts, inputs and give them a chance to contribute and voice their opinions.
4. Motivating & Mindful
Lastly a mentor should be able to enhance and enable growth in their mentee, through a positive outlook, and motivation. While setting goals the mentor must be mindful of the mentee’s capabilities and give them all the assistance they need. Mentors should be approachable and accessible, making the mentee feel comfortable.
Evidently, mentors have a strong role to play in our internships and lives and thus have the ability to help us or bring us down. Hence a good mentor will enable you as a student to step out of your comfort zone, giving you opportunities for growth and development. They will enable better time management and productivity by instilling a good work ethic and environment which is conducive to learning.
Signs Of A Bad Mentor
Simultaneously the absence of such a mentor or having an ineffective mentor only hinders our progress. Having a mentor who controls us, micro-manages more than teaches eventually causes a loss of confidence, and morale. Another sign of a bad mentor is unreliability, as accessibility and availability is key to provide learning opportunities as well as support to you as a student. If the mentor lacks encouragement, and is constantly ignorant of your personal needs and does not assist you with your doubts, their role as a mentor is not fulfilled.
The next time you are in a mentorship program, or internship where you have to build a relationship with a mentor keep this shortcut in mind. This shortcut will remind you what a mentor truly stands for…
M – Motivating
E – Excited to Share
N- Never absent
T – Timely Feedback
O- Open-minded & optimistic
R- Respectful & Rational
If you too have had good and bad experiences with mentors do share it with us!