Intern – a person who works as an apprentice or trainee in an occupation or profession to gain practical experience, and sometimes also to satisfy legal or other requirements for being licensed or accepted professionally
Mentor – a wise and trusted counselor or teacher; an influential senior sponsor or supporter
January is National Mentoring Month and the perfect time to remind internship supervisors that a good supervisor is also a mentor.
Qualities of a good intern include a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. In exchange, companies are expected to provide a hands-on learning experience. An internship supervisor provides orientation, assigns tasks, provides direct supervision of the intern’s day to day activities, and evaluates intern’s performance. Assigned work should be challenging, relate to intern’s academic major, and meet their career skills development goals. Supervisor and intern should meet regularly to evaluate the intern’s strengths and weaknesses and their adjustment in the agency.
Teaching and training are essential to internship success. A meaningful internship experience cannot happen without an internship supervisor who establishes a professional learning environment, ensures that the intern and employees understand the intern’s role, is open to questions and suggestions, includes the intern in company and stakeholder meetings that increase their skill level and professional network, and utilizes academic goals to guide the evaluation process. This may require a lot of extra time and attention but the outcome is worth the effort.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Nicki Sanders, The Packaged For Success Coach, is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.
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