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December 12, 2018

This is No Babysitting Job

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Final Post of the Series: Increase Your Stock by Investing in Your Future

I’m always grateful Excella had the vision to the start the Extension Center (XC) in 2008, and for giving me the opportunity in 2012 to grow it into the program it is today – graduating an increasing volume of well-prepared talent every year, to bring immediate impact to Excella clients.

While I’ve been doing this for more than 5 years now, I still find people in the company who don’t know exactly what it is the Extension Center does. Now, Excella has grown tremendously as a firm, so it follows that not everyone knows everything about all aspects of the organization. I fill in the blanks of course, but some still don’t really get it.

The truth is, while most won’t say it, some might think the XC team has an easy job. We are working with college students all day, we have a modern and fun space (and maybe a few Nerf guns stashed around the office) – that doesn’t sound so hard, right? The reality may surprise you.

Mentoring is hard. It requires you to put your best foot forward and work on making the other foot better, all the time. As you’ve heard in previous posts, mentoring requires patience, passion, communication and organization skills, preparation, and planning. Whether you’re mentoring the most junior employee or someone higher-level, you have to think about everything you say and do, while you continually evaluate whether you’re demonstrating skills and traits you want your mentee to learn. As a mentor, you are the example for your mentee to follow. You have to know your craft inside and out, be able to explain it down to the most minute detail, take nothing for granted in terms of your mentee’s knowledge on the topic and always assume they want the most thorough of explanations. Now add in your own client work and associated deadlines and expectations; your day is a series of interruptions and context switching.

Imagine my surprise then when other Excellians tell me they’ve been put in charge of someone more junior and think they’ve been assigned a babysitting role (Dude, really?). No, this is no babysitting job. This is a chance for real career development both for your mentee and you as the mentor. This is a chance for you to grow all sorts of new skills and sharpen the tech skills you already have. If you think you know it, try teaching it – I guarantee you’ll learn something more about it. This is as much an investment in the junior employee as it is in yourself – and if you have the mentality of an XC Lead, a privilege. Yes, it is hard, but it is worth it.

If you are an Excellian, or even someone from another firm wondering why we have the Extension Center program — we do it because we’re thinking ahead. We’re not only creating great junior consultants for Excella every year, but we’re also growing the skills of our more seasoned talent so they stay with us. We’re investing in our future.

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This blog post is part of our “Increase Your Stock by Investing in Your Future” series. Here, consultants at Excella’s Extension Center (XC) at Virginia Tech share their experiences developing an award-winning internship program, lessons learned, and tips you can apply when building your own program!

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