The Accidental Mentor
Every fall I take some time to reflect on my summer internship program- What went well? What could be better? What was the highlight? And did I do enough? For the last five summers I have had the honor of putting together and managing my organizations Diversity & Inclusion Internship Program. It has truly grown from a small pilot into a comprehensive, well balanced program, that in its short existence has proven to be a much needed diverse talent pipeline.
Each year I add a new component, or tweak something that wasn't quite working, in an effort to make it even stronger for the next class. But the one thing that was never quite successful is a mentor program. It is an element that has been tried in the past, but just hasn't worked the way I want it to. And at the end of each summer, a little piece of me feels like I've gypped my interns by not having matched them with an official mentor. Then the end of this summer came and everything changed. I realized that there was a mentor program in place. It just wasn't a traditional one.
Fast forward to the last day of the program- I get a thank you note from one of the interns that literally brought me to tears. Actual- crying like a baby, someone came to check to make sure I was okay- tears. Earlier in the week I facilitated a networking lunch with senior executives, and this intern, let's call him B, really rose to the occasion. He did his homework and when his peers sat there quiet, he jumped in and asked very thoughtful questions. He had used the eight weeks to blossom and I sent him a note to let him know how impressed I was with him and to thank him for bringing his A game.
This is when the thank you came. And the tears. And this is what I learned from it. And I'm going to quote B's thank you note because his words are too powerful to not be shared.
An unconventional question is more than just a fun way to end an interview.
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