I did my internship at a Ugandan company. It was such a burdensome experience for both myself (and the other interns) and the team that was in charge of training us. We were given computers and specifically asked to stay out of their way, and I’m right to say that period was probably my highest contribution to Facebook. Of course, being the big heads that we were (what interns aren’t?), we insisted on asking for work so that we could learn something. Our pleas fell on deaf ears, and so we were resigned to playing Spider Solitaire on bad days and Minesweeper on days when we felt good enough to handle such losses. About four to six months of a lot of that; short of sitting on a superior’s desk, no one wanted to be burdened by the interns (especially because they are not a permanent resource – which is funny because that is really the definition of an internship, nothing set in stone).
I don’t know if this is the case everywhere, but the stories I have heard are not encouraging.
Since I have only had the pleasure of living in Uganda, I am curious if this is the case everywhere in the world.
Why are knowledgeable and experienced people not willing to share their knowledge and experience with others? Why are people comfortable with being the only experts/go-to people in a certain area? Why would anyone want to die with all the knowledge and experience they have without having shared it with someone else?
One of the definitions of unemployment is the willingness to work without the ability to do the work; people want to get a job but do not have the skills and experience to perform well at that job. One way to acquire skills and experience is through mentorship.
Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced/knowledgeable person passes on this information to an intern or a person that is new to the organization or industry.
It sounds like a simple enough concept; you are hired because you know something, while you go about doing that job, teach someone what you know. The benefits of doing this are quite a number, so again, it sounds like a simple enough concept but it’s obviously not. Those benefits I mentioned earlier, here they are;
For the mentor
- It helps re-energize your career, and creates more job satisfaction.
- It encourages you to share knowledge, which increases your sense of self-worth.
- It develops leadership and management skills.
- It gives you recognition for your knowledge, skills and experience.
- It strengthens your interpersonal relationship skills.
- It gives you exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches.
For the mentee
- It helps you learn first-hand, from the experience of others.
- It gives you guidance on professional development and advancement, which helps you take better control of your career.
- It increases self-confidence.
- It provides you with an important networking contact.
For the organization
- It shows the people within the organization that management is willing to invest in its employees. This grows employee loyalty, and will greatly reduce the turnover rate.
- It creates a more positive work environment.
- It strengthens leadership and coaching skills in employees that are mentors.
- It enables faster and better recruitment.
- It develops a culture of personal and professional growth.
- Have you been a mentor/mentee before, and what was your experience?
- Have you ever worked for an organization that has a mentorship programme?
- On a scale of 1-10, how simple was/is it to get a mentor?
- Do you think building a mentorship culture in Uganda will have a positive effect on some of the problems we face? Which problem(s) & how?
Please spare a minute to respond to the questions in the comment section, or firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to read your experiences.