Insights for Intern Training and Mentoring: Stories From the Field

As we gear up for Fuentek’s webinar designed to help TTOs put their interns to work on technology screenings, we’re taking stock of our own lessons learned from technology transfer intern programs. This Story from the Field is based on Fuentek’s real-world experience with training tech transfer interns at a major research university.

What Happened

The tech transfer office (TTO) hired interns to begin work at the start of the fall semester. Kick-off training sessions were held in late August and early September, before academic classes ramped up. These sessions provided an overview of the tech transfer process as well as basic information about the stages of intellectual property (IP) management. Fuentek then provided an in-depth series of webinars over 4 weeks on how to conduct an effective technology screening. These training sessions gave interns:

  • An overview of why screening is critical and where it fits into the IP management process
  • Extensive details about how to perform each step of the screening process
  • Real examples of effective screenings
  • Time for discussion and Q&A

Following this in-depth training, each intern was assigned a technology to screen and a Fuentek mentor who provided guidance throughout each of the screening steps. Our mentors helped the interns:

  • Ensure they understood the technology fully
  • Brainstorm effective keywords to conduct market research
  • Consider other aspects of the market that they may have overlook, which often affected the rating or recommendation for the technology
  • Develop a clear list of next steps based on the recommendation
  • Write their findings as clearly as possible

After this critical hands-on part of the process, each intern continued to conduct screenings independently. However, for these early screenings, the Fuentek mentors reviewed each of the completed reports as a quality assurance step. They provided feedback for changes or improvements as well as any needed follow-up discussion.

What We Learned

We found that it was very helpful to provide nuanced guidance over time:

  • When interns are first learning, have them focus on the key elements.
  • As they become more familiar with the process, interns can focus on the more subtle but very important aspects that help them put together an effective rating and recommendation that is valuable for the TTO.

We also found that the progression from in-depth training to hands-on mentoring to more independent work with follow-up reviews let interns benefit from feedback during or immediately following each screening. This allowed them to quickly adopt improved techniques and gain additional confidence for each subsequent screening. Fuentek and our university client saw clear improvement in the interns’ work over the course of this process.

During this training, the value of providing each intern with guidance on more than one screening was also highlighted. Providing interns with guidance on a variety of screening assignments as they developed their skills helped them more effectively navigate these factors as they began to work more independently.

Are you getting ready for your summer interns to arrive on the scene? Fuentek can help you benefit from these lessons learned and many more in our live webinar that will help your interns hit the ground running with technology screenings. And if you are just starting to think about starting an intern program, check out our blog posts about setting up an effective internship program and about hiring good interns to get you thinking about how to get a program rolling. Or get in touch with us to see how we might be able to help you get started!

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Posted by Danielle McCulloch

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