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As an intern at a software company, I always wondered what the code of conduct is between the mentor and the mentee. There were times when I reached the thin line of appearing too "in-your-face" and arrogant. Other times it bordered on timidness. My question is what are the behaviours for mentees when they start of with a job position. What are the minimal expectations set from them and what are the recommended best behaviors to learn faster and earn your mentor's trust?

closed as too broad by Jim G., Michael Grubey, jcmeloni, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings May 12 '14 at 18:13

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As an intern at a software company, I always wondered what the code of conduct is between the mentor and the mentee.

I'm going to stop here. First things first - ask. I cannot believe the number of people, in particular interns, who suffer through questions like this or "I'm bored" or "I can't get this to work" or "I don't like this, it sucks" without even considering asking their supervisor/mentor for guidance!

  • Step 1 - have a conversation with your mentor asking about expectations/etc

Everyone is different. All interns and all managers/mentors have different needs and expectations. It's hard to write a one-size fits all answer here, except that you can find yours - just by talking with your mentor!

There were times when I reached the thin line of appearing too "in-your-face" and arrogant. Other times it bordered on timidness.

Remember at most companies, internships are part of a more lengthy interview process. Depending on the people involved this attitude could make or break your chances for a successful return offer. But again, the key point is: ask about such things. People generally expect interns to have questions.

My question is what are the behaviours for mentees when they start of with a job position. What are the minimal expectations set from them and what are the recommended best behaviors to learn faster and earn your mentor's trust?

All that being said, there are things you can do. First, while asking questions is great, don't ask dumb questions you could find answers to yourself. If you have a problem with something you can solve, try to solve it first, and if you are not successful, ask a question - but in the "I was having this problem. I tried $(XXXX) and $(YYYY) but could not solve it, any suggestions/hints?" manner. Not the "This is a problem, help me please!!" method.

  • Step 2 - accept you will have questions, and asking them in a meaningful fashion

Additionally, you may not realize this, but most interns take a ton of time for mentors/managers. You can easily alleviate this by instead of making them do project descriptions or asking a million clarifications, take your tasks, and writeup documents summarizing what you understood the task to be - and review this with your mentor. People love tweaking other documents. People like that a lot more than document creation.

So much of this though, really, is dependent on the individual mentor. Some mentors will expect lots more communication and questions. Some will be most happy if you talk with them once a week for 10 minutes, get direction, and go do work without disturbing them.

  • Step 3 - continue the feedback loop, and perhaps even initiate elements of it

And remember: everyone is different and each mentor/intern relationship will be different. You can try guessing, but it's significantly easier to simply have a conversation about this subject.

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If you have a mentor, that person more than likely reports back to his/her supervisor with your progress. So I highly recommend acting in kind.

Always have an open mind to any input given, whether you think or know it's right or wrong. Be receptive to criticism and don't take it personally. Understand that you're the 'New Guy' and you know absolutely nothing.

You're expected to learn and eventually put into action what you've learned.

Your goal and focus is to soak in as much information about the work that you're going to be doing. From what kind of code is being written, to what common procedures are being used, workflow, and communicating with other staff members. Don't forget to make connections with other employees to help get you settled into the company environment.

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There were times when I reached the thin line of appearing too "in-your-face" and arrogant. Other times it bordered on timidness.

ummm....ok, not sure what type of software company this is but I don't think an intern would want to be either of these. Balance is key here. You want to be productive and expand on this win win situation (they get work for cheap and you get valuable experience).

Be interested in the opinions and thoughts of others, you don't want to be overly confident - a know-it-all. This can cause others to have feelings of insecurity or resentment.

On your other end that can seem aloof, disconnected, or disinterested. If you appear reclusive, this can cause others to feel depersonalized or devalued.

As far as behavior be respectful and fun to work, after all they will decide if they want to hire you, not the other way around.

Do your conversations display mutual contributions, constructive ideas, generative possibilities?

For more info see Triple Creek White papers:
http://www.3creek.com/resource-center/white-papers

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