Not all fairytales end with a glass slipper—sometimes they end with a job.
My rise from rags (waitressing) to riches (junior account executive) began in a dressing room at a mall instead of a pumpkin patch and ended at a desk in a boutique agency, not a ballroom.
I met our senior account executive, Krystal Tingle, while trying on a dress to wear to another interview at a large public relations firm. When I didn’t get the position, I was asked to come in and assist Krystal.
A few months later I ended up working for the company. It was birds and mice that got Cinderella ready for the ball; I had two women who were my “fairy Godmentors”— Krystal Tingle and Leah Scherschel—that taught me the ins and outs of the PR world.
It’s been almost a year and I recently finished mentoring an intern of my own. Throughout the process, I consciously tried to extend the same courtesies that I experienced while being mentored. I also came to understand the challenges that my “Godmentors” must have faced while training me.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when mentoring for the first time so your mentor flourishes and doesn’t refer to you negatively.
If your intern or mentee is still in school, chances are they have little to no actual experience. Make sure to explain the process and what exactly it is you need them to do. If you take the extra time to show them in the short-term, you will be rewarded by their work in the long-term.
Your intern understands that you are busy. They probably sense your stress level rising from the moment they walk in the door. It’s frustrating having to explain how to compete tasks that are a part of your daily routine but it will be even more frustrating for your intern if you don’t show them. A little patience and kindness go along way when you are learning and are not forgotten.
Remember where you came from.
It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time you probably thought of baseball, too, when someone said “go pitch.” There is nothing worse than a mentor who is condescending and demeaning to someone who just starting out and trying to learn. They are helping you so be nice to them.
Did your mentee rock an assignment? Tell him or her. If you are proud of your mentee just imagine how proud of they are. I treasure the tokens that my “Godmentors” gave me when I started, and they will always remind me of the support I received while learning. Praise builds confidence.
Let go. It’s hard, nerve wracking even, but there comes a time when you have to just delegate and trust that you have trained them well and they can do it on their own.
A positive mentoring experience can turn into a dedicated and talented employee. Don’t dismiss interns as easy or cheap labor. They are people too so treat them as such.
Bridget Veltri is a junior account executive at The Abbi Agency, where a version of this story first appeared. You can join her royal court by following her on twitter at @BVeltri.