When I first started at Isos Technology as a software development intern I didn't know what to expect. It was my first technical job so I was nervous, but having great mentors made it easier for me to get started with my new career. I learned a lot about using Atlassian apps and developing for them. Almost three years later, I am still with Isos as a development engineer. We recently hired another developer intern that I was chosen to help manage because of my experience going through the internship. Since the internship started I'm still continuing to learn; however, this time it's about what it takes to mentor an intern.
As an intern I remember arriving to the office and working on the Jira tickets assigned to me. Whenever I had any questions I was able to reach out to one of the mentors. I didn't realize time management was crucial until I was in their position. I have to balance my weekly commitments on top of being available to help and guide the intern. When an intern gets stuck or needs help, it's important to be available so that they can continue to learn. On busy days, I can provide some links or information to help. On days that I have more availability, I enjoy working together and being there to help guide. If you're completely unavailable, try to have backup tasks that the intern can work on so that they don't just sit there with nothing to do. Tracking the tasks on a Jira board makes this straightforward.
Schedule Weekly Meetings
We recently started having weekly meetings to sync up on tasks. We use this time to recap on what was done the past week and if there are questions surrounding that work. Questions and feedback can help create better intern projects in the future. After, we can set expectations for the upcoming week. Bringing up where their work fits into the scope of the project would help them feel more motivated to reach the end goal.
Try not to assume
It's easy to assume your intern's knowledge about concepts, frameworks and technologies. It's a great idea to ask before you assign a task. Depending on the intern, they can be afraid to speak up and ask questions. Furthermore, it could make them feel insecure if they feel like they should know what you assumed. When a task involves something you haven't seen them do before, then make sure to ask if they have any questions. It will reduce the stress on the intern.
It's important to demonstrate your company's culture with the intern. Isos encourages solving problems by collaborating with members of the team. During the internship, we've worked with people to help us with CI/CD and other technical questions. Communicating even while remote is also important for everyone at Isos. With tools like Zoom and Slack, our intern can work from home, a coffee shop or anywhere else. Lastly, invite your intern to team bonding events. While you are mentoring an intern, they can be easily overlooked when planning events. Especially if they are part time. Inviting them will introduce them to more co-workers from different offices that may also be helpful collaborating with on certain projects.