I took the MSFT "Intern Mentoring" training last week in preparation for the impending arrival of my very first intern.  It was about 2 hours of concentrated goodness.  An Intern Mentor here at MSFT is the person who "manages" an intern.  We're in charge of setting goals and expectations and writing the checkpoint and final review.

I was pretty surprised while draining the TiVo this weekend to see that this very topic was the subject of Gilmore Girls this week.  My informal survey leads me to believe that this show has an unexpectedly high geek following (and people seem to love the recruiting topic) so I will now expound upon the subject of "What Rory's boss could have learned from Microsoft Intern Mentor training."

Quick plot summary:  Rory gets an internship at a newspaper working for super fantastic newspaper wunderkind.  She gives it her all and we see many shots of her happily flitting about the newsroom and spreading sunshining and delivering copies.  On the last day her boss pulls her aside to talk about her performance.  He tells her that she doesn't have what it takes, lacks drive and didn't jump in to the fray enough.  Rory is shocked and steals a boat.

Mistake #1:  Rory's boss failed to clearly set expectations for the internship.  In her mind, her task was to shadow her boss and do the little chores that needed doing.  In her boss' mind, her job was to jump in and show what she can do and fight for her own ideas.  Very poor communication!

Mistake #2:  Rory's boss failed to give on-going feedback to his intern.  It's entirely possible that had he properly communicated expectations and conducted regular performance reviews, Rory would have delivered exactly what he was looking for and a better experience would have been had by all.  The cardinal rule of Microsoft Internships is "the final review should never be a surprise!"

The best thing about this episode was it demonstrated the serious consequence of falling down on your mentoring responsibilities!  By not properly setting expectations and giving on-going feedback, Rory's boss drove her in to a life of crime.  At Microsoft, we usually worry most about getting a bad reputation for mistreating interns, but there are clearly live's at stake!

Who says that TV isn't educational?!  We'll see if I can do any better.  ;-)