I've had the pleasure of mentoring some co-op students over the last 4 months. I remembered the days when I was just as eager as they are to learn as much as possible in a very short amount of time. I remember crashing a burning a lot on my attempts at learning something new, but that made the victories that much sweeter when they came. One thing I do regret not doing is being in the co-op program. There's so much you learn from industry experience that you just don't learn in your day to day courses and homework.
One of the more important lessons I learned from the co-ops was that it's okay to fail because no one expects you to be great. I took this lesson and applied it directly to my mentorship techniques. I had to allow them to fail before I helped them in the right direction. Drupal is good for that.. As a platform, it gives you ample opportunities to crash and burn over and over again. Then when you think you're doing it right because it works, you're still doing it wrong because it's not the Drupal way. Hmm. Now that I'm thinking of it, maybe Drupal wasn't the platform to throw the students into, because they spend more time failing than succeeding.
Another lesson I learned was that they're still human and enjoy having fun. I was never too serious with them. Always shared anything I learned with them as if they have been a part of the team since day 1. We'd often find ourselves in a debate about programming languages, editors, courses, school rivalries, and anything that has opposing views in this industry. As we all know, there is no shortages of opinions in software development. They came with us on corporate outings, sat in on meetings, and took part in meetups outside of the office. Making them feel like part of the team was essential to their moral.
With the lessons they learned at the office, they can go back to school with a better idea of where they want to focus on.. Even though we don't do the "fun" things like machine learning, computer vision, or artificial intelligence. All the curious questions were fun, and the debates were more progressive than you would imagine they would be.. It kind of suck they have to go back to school now. I'm sure I'll get the opportunity to meant more students in the future.