Finding a mentor

Mar 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Succeeding as an Intern


One of the best missed opportunities for many interns is the chance to find good mentoring. Some people drift into the internship, work hard and then disappear. They don’t seem to understand what internships are for. They don’t pick the brains around them, they develop no sustainable mentor-mentee relationships and then they drift away.

Smart interns find mentors, cultivate editors to be references, and stay in touch.

Internships are not just summer-help programs. Internships are a way for employers to identify and cultivate employees for their company or other companies in the industry. Interns who understand this stay in the loop.

Mentors are a chief benefit of an internship. You’ll need mentors for several different kinds of advice, but all will be safe, supportive people who can help you understand the business and get better at it. A mentor can be your editor, your editor’s editor, or a non-supervisor who shows interest in you and your work.

Some papers will assign mentors or partners to the people they hire. Some don’t. In either case, getting a good mentor is your responsibility.

It is certainly not the mentor’s responsibility to sign up. And you cannot leave it to the newspaper to guess about who will be a good match.

Mentoring relationships can spring up informally. Or, you can quite deliberately ask someone whose work and style you respect, “Would you be my mentor?” For some of us, this is a great compliment.

Think of this as a free sample. You can find more internship strategies in “Breaking In: The guide to Newspaper Internships.”

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