Now that you have set up the lab. What do we do next? Yes, we need someone to run the lab and do the day to day mentoring in the lab.
Who do we hire? What should be the job profile like? Is there even a profile like Tinkering Incharge or a Tinkering Mentor? Should they have experience or freshers would be fine? What should be their educational qualification?
In this article, we look at addressing a few of these issues school face!
Most schools don’t know what to look for and mostly go by some standard profile or give an advertisement in a newspaper or social media or HR consultant. Though this can be good start lets understand the details.
What to look for in Tinkering Mentor?
- A person skilled in tinkering and understands tinkering well, This means you have to look at someone who is a “DOer“, look for a person who has executed various projects in electronics, mechanical domain. Look for an interdisciplinary kind of person, a jack of various subjects, but with lots of energy and bubbling with ideas. When we say interdisciplinary, this is something you can’t gauge by looking at their educational profile. This is only indicated by the kind of projects and number of projects they have done or are involved with. Voluntary activities they get involved with also help you gauge what they like doing. Ask them about their project, if they can passionately tell about it and answer most questions, this is a good indicator. The education qualification could be an engineer, diploma holder or even a self-made tinkerer with no degree to show. As long as they fulfil the above it doesn’t matter. Avoid teachers with pure theoretical background and no proven practical experience and knowledge. i.e. they haven’t soldered, have not done any simple carpentry work, don’t know to open an old radio box/ mobile phone or fix a simple electrical connection. If they have not done any of the above then they might not be tinkerer material.
- The 2nd most important thing is their ability to be good storytellers and communicators and their ability to connect with kids, How do we test this? Put them in a class and ask them to teach the kids about any topic of choice. How the kids respond and interact can be a good indicator of how effective the mentor is. Use 7-8th graders to do the test class. Liking the kids is an important criterion.
- Experience: We really like young guys, because they connect well with kids on an average, but this is not mandatory. Too much experience can sometimes be a hindrance. 0-2 years are good. Please remember there can always be exceptions! Why zero years? We have hired and trained over 150 tinkering mentors and we have found that you don’t get many people with experience in this profile, so better to train them and make them good at that by looking at the characteristics they exhibit. This can be fruitful and very economical many times. But be sure you have someone to train and guide them.An organization like us can help in this!
Some of them are good at faking interviews, they show pseudo passions and commitment. The interviewer can be fooled completely into believing that they are the perfect fit.
That is why we recommend one/two trial classes by them about any project in a live class can make all the difference.
Please dot expect them to be perfect, it’s about a good balance of Passion, Knowledge, and Communication which matters. A little bit of training and hand-holding can do wonders and can bring out the best in them as they are new to this job too.
Please take time and effort, in recruiting the right candidate as this can make all the difference in running the Tinkering Lab effectively. No matter how much you invest in the Lab, the right Mentor driving the lab can make all the difference. Invest in them!
A great car with a bad driver can break the car !