Diary of a First Time Mentor - Part 3
June 15 2017
The next important phase of the Mentoring journey , the internship, is rapidly approaching on the horizon so I thought it would be an appropriate time to update reader(s?) on how the Career Ready mentoring programme has developed to date.
The Career Ready internship is a fantastic opportunity for a young person to gain an invaluable first insight into the world of the professional workplace. From the end of June my mentee will spend 4 weeks working in our office, working on a wide range of duties which will expose her to all parts of our business. It is a paid internship so there is a mutual obligation here. Firstly on us as an employer to provide a practical, valuable working experience to the Career Ready student which will afford her the opportunity to learn new skills, understand the types of behaviour required in a professional working environment (I hope my colleagues and I can live up to expectations in this regard) and ultimately to ensure the student gains the self-confidence she will need for the future. Furthermore, we have a duty to ensure she feels included and encouraged to express herself so she gets the maximum benefit from the experience
From the student’s perspective, it is imperative she treats this as a genuine employed position as opposed to a “Summer job” to earn a bit of spare cash to support her Summertime partying. I can influence my own mindset and that of my colleagues as we approach the beginning of the internship but we can only do our best to influence the approach of the student.
This got me thinking; what can we do to encourage a positive first impression for the student thus ensuring she gets off to a flying start and makes the most of this opportunity?
I think back to my first experience of working in an office and how alien the whole concept appeared. Thankfully we are a relatively forward-thinking company which doesn’t adhere to many of the historic office stereotypes which might put a young person off office life; we don’t operate any traditional hierarchies, we have a daily dress-down policy (some of us more “down” than others) and believe it or not we have a couple of “reasonably” youthful colleagues (present company excepted) who might even be able to converse with references to current pop culture etc. All this aside, it’s imperative that we remember this environment that is second nature to us is very new to the student and we therefore have a responsibility to go out of our way, especially at first, to make her feel welcome.
Our business is of course a people business where the vast majority of our time is spent engaging with individuals via telephone and in person. Therefore, I believe this internship will provide the perfect platform for the intern to build her self-confidence when dealing with an array of different personalities. Much of the news today is dominated by doomsday-style predictions of the impact AI and Robotics will have on the workforce of tomorrow, however one of the things that seems apparent to me is that regardless of the growth of these new technologies, the need for humans who can successfully interact with other humans will remain constant. Therefore it is vital that our young people are encouraged to develop their ability to build and maintain relationships, both personally and professionally. It’s certainly something I will be encouraging my own children to focus on as they grow up ……………. whether or not I’m the best person to teach them is of course an altogether different question. Hopefully, as she gains insights into the types of people we work with on a daily basis she will start to realise as I did when I started my career that despite your initial fears, senior executives at large companies are not necessarily corporate monsters (some are but let’s not go there) but are just normal men and women with families, hobbies, personality quirks etc. just like the rest of us.
It’s less than 2 weeks now until our new member of staff begins her 4 week internship and we’re all looking forward to welcoming her on board. I will write another blog at the end of the internship and might even ask the intern herself to contribute, at least then you will know you’re getting a true reflection of how successful or otherwise the process has been.