My Experience as an Intern Buddy

This summer I was the intern buddy for my team's intern.

This summer I was the intern buddy for my team's software engineer intern. It was my first time having an intern, and overall it was a great mentorship learning experience.

Wanting an Intern

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I have been working with my manager towards the senior software engineer promotion hopefully by the end of this year. Last fall when my manager and I were going over my monthly self-evaluations of my progress towards the promotion checklist, I had asked him if he had ideas on how I could achieve the "mentors others" requirement when I am the most junior engineer on the team. My manager suggested that if our team were to get an intern, I could mentor the intern as her intern buddy.

I remember feeling very excited about this prospect even though I also knew that our team may not be given an intern. During April this year I still had not heard of any updates.

Getting an Intern

In May this year I learned that our team was going to have an intern, and I felt very happy with my manager shared the news with our team. I remember that during that meeting he set some expectations for what our team would be like with a summer intern:

  1. The intern's net contributions to the team would be expected to be zero. It would be a success if intern's contributions minus the time spent by other teammates helping her and not working on their own tasks was net zero.
  2. My productivity as the intern buddy would be expected to decrease to roughly 50% because of time spent with the intern mentoring, discussing, doing 1-on-1 meetings, etc.
  3. I would be expected to hold multiple one-on-one meetings with my intern each week. Note that this is more than the once-a-week one-on-one meetings that I have with my manager.

Why a Team Would Want an Intern

As you read the previous section, you might have wondered, "Why would a team want an intern when the intern doesn't make net positive contributions to the team?" Here are some reasons why:

  1. At many companies, in order for a team to get a job requisition for a new hire, the team needs to take on an intern. The logic is that if a team were given the opportunity to take on an intern and the team rejected it, then it would send a signal that the team does not need or cannot handle additional members.
  2. Having an intern is a great learning opportunity for team members. For instance, the intern buddy gets experience mentoring and the team manager also gets experience managing an intern.
  3. Having an intern on the team is fun! It's always great having a new member on a team who brings new energy and new perspectives to the team.
  4. Interns do presentations and they meet other interns. When they go back to school, they talk about their internship with their friends which is not only branding for the company but also branding for your team. In other words, it helps with growing your team when more people know that your team exists.

My Intern's Project

Unfortunately, I cannot talk about this right now. Once the project is deployed, I will see if I can get permission to write about it because it is really cool!

Because I cannot talk about the project in detail yet, I will end the blog post here and hopefully dive into more details in another blog post.

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