Evaluating your mentee during mid-term

This article shares a few tips on evaluating your mentee's project performance during their mid-term evaluation.

  1. Halfway There Mentees are expected to complete 40-50% of their project by the first evaluation which is the halfway point of the program if they want to pass their evaluation. Based on your pass/fail decision, we'll organize the stipend payment for your mentee. If a mentee fails the evaluation, they will no longer be part of the program and will not receive any payments from Summer of Bitcoin.

  2. When In Doubt, Fail The Student­ This is harsh-sounding advice. However, we've learned that more than 80% of the students who are reported as marginal at or before the first evaluation eventually fail or withdraw from the program. Whatever problems your mentee is currently having, they are likely to be worse than you currently appreciate, and to get worse rather than better over time. You are not doing your mentee, much less yourself, a service by prolonging the agony. Most students and their mentors have a great time and get a lot done. If you are having the other kind of experience, it's best for us to cut losses and try again next year. There are dozens of other interns diligently working on their projects and if we give an intern a pass simply because we feel guilty failing them (even though they are not meeting deadlines or communicating) then we are doing a disservice to all of the other hardworking interns. Students need to understand that we take the Summer of Bitcoin experience seriously and value the mentor's commitment and expect them to do likewise.

  3. It’s Not Impossible to Turn Things Around A true story: Once upon a time there was a student with limited English. The mentor considered the communication difficulty as a potential issue, but the student was enthusiastic, and hoped to use the program as an opportunity to improve his English. The onboarding went well, but during the first half of the project period, progress drifted off track. The student’s mentor was much busier with work than was anticipated, and the student became stuck several times with various issues. The student failed to proactively ask for help, and the mentor didn’t catch this, so the student became disheartened. At the midterm, progress was disappointing, and the project came close to failing the student. But as the mentors looked at how they might try to rescue the situation, and after discussion with the student, they came up with a concrete plan. The student had a job in the lab for about 8 hours a week, which he agreed to put on hold until the end of summer. Each day the student updated a Google doc with what he was working on. This included reviewing any outstanding issues which might block progress. The student would camp on slack during the hours he worked on his project. Additionally, a second mentor was brought in, so that a mentor would always be available when the student might be working. Progress was discussed daily. The organization also made it clear that if the plan didn’t succeed, that the failure would reflect badly on both the project and the student. All those involved were happy to work to address any additional issues that might come up. By the final evaluation, the student was almost back on his original project plan, and had completed all the required goals. It is possible to rescue a failing Summer of Bitcoin contributor, but we need to really consider the issues, and come up with a plan to address them. If this is the case for your mentee, please feel free to reach out to us. We'll sort it out together.

  4. Mentor, Heal Thyself This is also an important time for self-evaluation. Are you managing your time adequately? Do you know where the project is at and where it is going? Are you enforcing the deadlines you set? Are you integrating your mentee into your community? Take this period as an opportunity to get feedback from your mentees! Is there any way that you could have helped them more? How does the mentee think you might be more effective as a mentor? Ask them directly for feedback.

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