Mentorship is an almost universally-accepted tool for employee development. So why not incorporate it into your internship program as well, just like we do it? Use this guide to learn the benefits of implementing internal mentorship systems for interns so the entire team can benefit.
Why you should implement a mentorship program
According to MentorcliQ, 84 percent of Fortune 500 companies have some sort of mentorship program in place. This percentage increases to 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies with female CEOs.
Large enterprises and small startups alike invest in mentoring interns, rising managers, and executives. However, not all mentorship programs are created equal. A mentor is someone who pushes their mentee to expand their skill set and step out of their comfort zone to grow. They’re also someone who should be trusted, with whom the mentee can share their worries and concerns.
Expand the skillset of new workers
One of the main benefits of mentoring interns is the ability to upskill and cross-skill them. Upskilling is a natural part of taking on interns. The more your interns can do when they start at your organization, the more they can help complete your never-ending task list. If you hire these interns, they will already be trained. If the intern moves on to another organization, they will have the skills they need to succeed.
However, cross-skilling is just as important—for new workers and those who are more experienced. Cross-skilling allows employees to step in to help when one worker is on vacation or overwhelmed by their current workload.
Mentorship programs can enable employees to support each other whenever necessary.
Your team will build stronger working relationships
Mentorship provides a mixture of tangible and intangible benefits to your organization. One of the least tangible (but most valuable) benefits is the increased levels of safety across your teams. When mentorship programs are effective, even the newest interns are confident in addressing problems they face. They won’t feel too intimidated to speak up and let the problems continue unnoticed.
When a mentee trusts their mentor, they can highlight new skills they want to learn and insights they want to learn more about. They can also reach out for help regarding sensitive situations.
At its most basic level, your mentorship program should help your employees grow their tangible skills. However, the most effective programs will create safe spaces and convey psychological safety at work.
Reverse mentoring can benefit senior employees
Mentoring is not a one-way system where more experienced team members spend precious working hours passing on knowledge to interns and entry-level employees. The concept of reverse mentoring is increasing in popularity and highlights how newer workers can increase the knowledge of their more senior colleagues.
Think about the rise of social media over the past few decades. This is the domain of the young, who feel comfortable creating Instagram posts and sharing updates on TikTok. Your interns have their own knowledge and skills to share with you.
At the very least, you can use your mentorship program to find out more about the next generation and what the future of work might look like. And maybe learn some other useful things in the process 😉
Employees and employers will grow together
Studies show that the longer an employee stays with a company after receiving mentorship, the more both parties benefit. On the company side, the business benefits from having highly-skilled workers who have a deep knowledge of the organization.
On the employee side, by starting mentorship at the intern level, you are potentially training your long-term employees. And later on, these employees can become themselves the future mentors. Here’s how we do it at 4PSA:
“I started my career 7 years ago during the Cool Summer Internship, as part of the SQA team. The positive experience of the internship had a great influence on my decision to stay with the company once it was over. Now I am the leader of one of the front-end teams.
I am now a mentor in the Cool Summer Internship. I believe that having gone through this experience myself is helping me become a better mentor. I’m doing my best to integrate the interns into the team and facilitate their transition from students to professionals.“
Florentina, 7 years at 4PSA
Mentorship does pay off
So you see, mentorship isn’t just about adding skills to your team members for them to become more productive. It is a mutually-beneficial relationship for all parties involved.
Consider how you currently mentor your interns and other employees. Do you have a formal process in place or leave space for casual guidance?
Make sure your interns are getting the most out of your mentorship programs and everybody is benefiting in multiple ways as a result.