sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

April 28, 2021

mentoring in a time of covid
posted by soe 1:12 am

Sunset from the Park

Tuesdays are always a late night for me this spring, because one of my interns, a junior at a college in the Central Time Zone, has a class this term that occupies her daytime hours four days a week. To let her stay on with us, I’ve arranged to let her work evening hours thrice a week, and we meet Tuesday evenings after her class lets out to discuss priorities for the week and to check in on how she’s doing.

One of the things that has come out of the confluence of a shift to remote workplace and some colleague departures is that I ended up supervising our interns. We have four, two undergrads and two grad students, and I’m the main point of contact with our organization for them.

Add in the colleagues that I supervise/have supervised, and I’ve been a mentor to six young adults in the first half of their 20s in the past year.

Even when I’ve been failing/flailing at other parts of my job, I’ve taken this role seriously. I meet with each of them weekly to check in on their lives during the pandemic, ask about classes and extracurriculars, and try to provide career/workplace advice, even as I’m handing out assignments and supervising projects. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it, and our interns have been very kind with their comments about what a surprisingly positive experience this has been for them.

We are currently in the process of doubling the size of our department and included in that is the realigning of certain job responsibilities. Supervising interns is going to be one of those roles that shifts away from me, and selfishly it’s the one that I’m having the hardest time recognizing is the right thing for the department, despite knowing it’s a necessary change.

I have to recognize this doesn’t mean that I can’t still provide mentorship, but it does mean that I’ll need to give more thought to what that looks like moving forward and do a better job of being proactive in my approach.

It will look different, but different doesn’t have to be bad.

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