Fixing mentor relationships

We occasionally hear from interns whose mentors are not all they hoped they would be. Often times, their work is too demanding to devote time to mentoring an intern; sometimes, they have been pressured into taking on the responsibility and aren’t really invested in mentoring. Or, they might just be trying to navigate a COVID world like we all are. Whatever the reason, you may find yourself not connecting with your mentor. Here are four ideas to address the issues:

1. Determine whether there’s really an issue: if you’re feeling disconnected from your mentor, don’t immediately assume that he or she isn’t invested. Give it one last shot by asking for a meeting at a time of your mentor’s choosing where you lay out what you hope to achieve this summer. Ask what you can do to help him or her. See if you can reset your relationship to make for a more productive mentoring opportunity.

2. Seek out other informal mentors: look around the company for other individuals who might be able to provide great advice and support as the summer goes on. If you have a good rapport with someone you’ve been working with or someone you met, ask if the two of you can connect regularly over the course of the summer. This person doesn’t have to know that you’re not hitting it off with your “official” mentor – just that he or she is someone you’re comfortable coming to for thoughts about how to make the most of your internship.

3. Connect with a fellow intern’s mentor: ask around about your colleagues’ mentorship experiences. If one of the other interns seems to be getting great advice on navigating the company and their assignments, consider asking if you can join them for lunch one day.

4. Make mental notes, and plan to make a change: very soon, you will be thrust into a mentoring position yourself as the first-years begin arriving on campus. If you’ve had a less-than-good mentorship experience, keep track of what made it unsatisfactory, and identify tangible ways that you can be a better mentor to others.