After 9 years in the "booming" brazilian IT business, working with Big Data and related techs, I decided to take a government job.

After three months of work, I was cornered and couldn't refuse anymore to take up interns. I have part-time two math interns just out of their first year of college, both with no previous work experience, and both say they want to work here as long as possible (two years, by the college rules). Two more interns are on their way, these two not very motivated (they need a supervised internship to finish their graduation credit).

I never took the lead of a "team" so young and green, so my usual approach of explaining what the client expects, setting deadlines and waiting for the magic to happen isn't working. They hit brick walls often, client expectations aren't well defined (the place has lots of projects and no project manager), and deadlines are stuff of legend.

Question: Which mentoring\coaching resources should I study to be able to keep these interns motivated?

  • 3
    I have decided to take a long-term vacation by finding a government job. - That sort of rhetoric is not something we approve of here. I am sure it was intended as a joke but it is condescending to those users who believe the government provides valuable services. Mar 18, 2014 at 19:40
  • Ok, I did not intend to offend anyone. Mar 18, 2014 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


There are several things you will learn along the way of becoming a workplace coach/manager. These are in no particular order:

Educate: You will need to present a problem to be solved. Show how to work through the problem, where to find resources, and the method you use to get from having a problem to having a solution. Be patient, as some of your team members will require more education than others.

Encourage: Everyone goes through a slump. We all know that. When one of your team has an issue that is getting to them, build up their self-esteem. Tell them that you know they are capable of completing the task. Sometimes people need someone to just listen to what they are saying (which is another form of encouragement).

Evaluate: You will have to make decisions that affect your team. As much as possible, gather all of the relevant information and when appropriate, a team consensus, about what resources, budget, and personnel capabilities. You may have to turn down new work opportunities for your team just because you don't have the time to complete it or the necessary skill set. If it is a skill set that can be learned without having a negative impact on the project, that is a lesser concern.

Enforce: Rules, deadlines, standards. Hopefully, you will never have to enforce punitive policies (written reports, firing, etc.). Be firm and consistent with your enforcement. Apply the same rules to everyone. If you give rewards for excellence, set those goals for everyone, and then give them to everyone who reaches those goals.

When you are working with more junior team members, you may have to educate and encourage more often than with the more senior team members. You should probably also allow more time to complete a project due to lack of knowledge and/or skills.

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    Damn, I want to upvote, but I don't have enough reputation! Mar 20, 2014 at 14:33

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