Over the recent years, I got the chance to mentor some aspiring interns. Not only did I find great pleasure in mentoring others, it provided me with valuable insights as well. So, what did I learn?
Spot onboarding hiccups
If you're getting familiar with how things work, things seem a lot more obvious than when you're new to them. If an intern is having trouble understanding a topic, have a look if it can be refactored or simplified. These small hiccups were often starting points for improvements in the codebase.
Listen to their approach first
Interns don't have a lot of knowledge about the day-to-day workflow in the company yet. Listening to their thoughts and reasoning for a problem will leave them with more self confidence than directly providing them with a path to a solution. Even coming up with a terrible solution helps in finding a better one the next time!
Perhaps they thought of a technique you're not familiar with? Or maybe they spot restraints in the regular workflow? It's also a chance to look at things from a different perspective.
Giving them a chance to analyse a problem themselves first, doesn't mean sending them in blind. When starting out, you're mostly training your analytical skills: how can I get from A to B as efficiently as possible? Finding the best approach balancing technical requirements with different types of customers' (and businesses') needs requires a lot of experience. Thinking together about who the most important stakeholders are will help them a great deal choosing the right solution.
What have you learned from your mentee or mentor?
Tips to share on how to improve yourself as a mentor?
I'd like to hear about them!
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