Mercari India

Two Sides of the Desk: An Intern-Mentor Journey ft. Paras and Nikita at Mercari India

Jun 12, 2024


Welcome to Two Sides of the Desk, a blog series where we share the unique experiences, challenges, and triumphs of interns and their mentors. This blog explores the dynamic relationship between mentor and mentee, offering insights from both sides of the desk. Whether you’re a seasoned mentor, a budding intern, or simply curious about the mentorship journey, our stories and reflections aim to inspire, educate, and foster a deeper understanding of this transformative partnership.

Mercari India:  How do you approach balancing guidance and autonomy for your interns to ensure they’re both learning and contributing meaningfully to projects?

Paras: As a mentor, I prioritize a balanced blend of guidance and autonomy to effectively nurture interns’ growth. Thorough onboarding is crucial, introducing them to our systems and pairing them with experienced team members for initial tasks, ensuring seamless integration into our workflow. Early establishment of clear and achievable goals aligns their learning objectives with meaningful contributions to our projects. Beginning with structured assignments, I gradually foster their autonomy as their skills develop.
Regular check-ins and constructive feedback sessions are crucial in assisting interns to tackle challenges independently while refining their problem-solving abilities. Collaborative projects play a vital role in providing insights into system interactions and leveraging the collective knowledge of the team. An open-door policy is maintained to encourage questions, facilitate idea sharing, and cultivate a supportive environment where interns can thrive and effectively prepare for future responsibilities.

Mercari India:  Can you provide an example of a particularly challenging situation you’ve encountered while mentoring an intern, and how you navigated it to ensure their growth and success?

Paras: In mentoring Nikita through her journey into backend development, we embarked on a project exploring server-side logic and API development. Initially, Nikita felt a mix of excitement and uncertainty, but I reassured her that growth comes from embracing challenges. We tailored a learning path focusing on backend fundamentals, breaking tasks into clear steps with defined milestones.

Navigating complexities together, we encountered challenges that became opportunities for learning. Pair programming sessions and regular code reviews helped us overcome obstacles and turn setbacks into lessons. By the end of our journey, Nikita emerged as a confident backend developer, equipped with new skills and resilience. Our collaborative experience has prepared her for future endeavors in the field.

Mercari India: If you could swap roles with each other for a day, what’s one thing you think you’d learn or experience from each other’s perspectives?

Paras: If Nikita and I were to swap roles for a day, we’d gain valuable insights:

From Nikita’s perspective as the intern:

  • Understanding the challenges of navigating new technologies.
  • Appreciating clear guidance and support for growth.
  • Experiencing the satisfaction of overcoming learning milestones.

This role swap would deepen our understanding of mentorship dynamics and enhance our collaboration.

Mercari India:  What specific skills or knowledge did you gain from this internship, and how did you leverage your mentor’s expertise to achieve your learning goals?

Nikita: During my internship, I acquired crucial skills and knowledge in backend development. This included:

  • Backend Fundamentals: I delved into server-side logic, API development, and database interactions.
  • Technical Proficiency: I honed my ability to set up development environments and write clean, maintainable code.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: My internship sharpened my skills in debugging, troubleshooting, and critical thinking.

I leveraged my mentor’s expertise in several ways:

  • Hands-On Guidance: Through pair programming sessions, I received real-time feedback and practical demonstrations of best practices.
  • Structured Learning Path: My mentor devised a clear, step-by-step learning plan, ensuring steady progress without overwhelming me.
  • Regular Feedback: Frequent code reviews provided constructive criticism, helping me improve my coding skills and adhere to industry standards.
  • Encouragement and Support: Continuous encouragement and celebration of milestones bolstered my confidence and motivation.
  • Problem-Solving Techniques: I learned effective problem-solving and debugging techniques directly from my mentor.

    By tapping into my mentor’s knowledge and guidance, I seamlessly translated theoretical concepts into practical skills, ultimately gaining confidence and proficiency in backend development.

Mercari India: Can you describe a time when you encountered a problem or obstacle during a project, and how you collaborated with your mentor to overcome it?

Nikita: During my internship, I faced the challenge of ensuring robust test coverage for a feature I was developing. Despite writing comprehensive test cases, identifying all edge cases and handling unexpected scenarios was difficult. Recognizing the importance of thorough testing, I sought guidance from my mentor.

Together, we reviewed the test suite and identified areas needing additional test cases. My mentor provided insights into brainstorming edge cases and boundary conditions we initially overlooked. We also discussed strategies for mocking dependencies and simulating real-world scenarios.

This collaboration deepened my understanding of test-driven development and taught me to anticipate diverse user interactions effectively. My mentor’s guidance expanded my testing skills and ensured the feature’s reliability and stability. This experience reinforced the importance of continuous learning and meticulous attention to detail in software development.

Mercari India: If you could swap roles with each other for a day, what’s one thing you think you’d learn or experience from each other’s perspectives?

Nikita:  If Paras and I were to swap roles for a day, we would gain valuable insights from each other’s perspectives.
From my mentor’s perspective, I would learn about the responsibilities and considerations involved in guiding and supporting interns. I would appreciate the nuances of providing tailored guidance and feedback to foster learning and development. I would also experience the fulfillment of witnessing an intern’s growth and progress, contributing to their success and professional development.

Overall, swapping roles would give us a unique opportunity to empathize with each other’s perspectives, deepen our understanding of the mentor-intern dynamic, and strengthen our collaboration moving forward.

If our stories resonate with you and you are inspired to be part of an organization that values growth, learning, and collaboration, we encourage you to join us. Stay tuned for more stories, lessons, and reflections as we continue to learn and grow together. Your support and engagement are greatly appreciated, and we look forward to welcoming you into our community and sharing more with you in the future.

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