Mentorship is an experiential learning approach where an individual is placed under the guidance, direction, and support of an expert or specialist for a period of time with the main purpose of assisting the student towards personal and professional growth and development. It is “an ‘off-line help’ provided by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking.” The mentor not only guides but he or she usually challenge the mentee to think outside of the box of his or her job in dealing with varied situations in his chosen field of practice.1
Mentoring differs from coaching in the following ways: Compared to coaching, mentoring is characterized by the ongoing relationship between the mentor and the mentee that can last for a long period of time. Mentoring relationships can also be more informal as opposed to the more structured nature of coaching relationships. Mentoring also requires that the mentor be more experienced and qualified than the mentee, as opposed to coaching which does not necessarily require that the coach have direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role unless the coaching is specific and skills focused. As earlier stated, the focus of mentoring is on career and personal development as opposed to coaching which revolves around specific development areas or issues. In mentorships, mentees set the agenda with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles, while in coaching, the agenda is focused on achieving specific immediate goals.2
There are different forms of mentoring. These forms are business mentoring, community mentoring, minority ethnic mentoring, mentoring for students ‘at risk’ of exclusion, peer mentoring, telementoring and higher education student mentoring in educational institutions. “Business mentoring describes people from business acting as mentors to students and young people.” Community mentoring programs “involve members of the local community providing mentors” for an educational institution. Minority ethnic mentoring schemes aim to “meet the needs of minority students who face particular disadvantages and barriers to their educational and career progression.” Mentoring for students ‘at risk’ of exclusion is a program that seeks to provide guidance to individuals who are in a difficult situation due to social exclusion (this is where individuals or groups are shut out from full benefits of being a citizen). Social exclusion is the form most relevant when dealing with migrant students. Peer mentoring is when people of similar age or status take on the roles of mentor and mentee. Tele-mentoring involves the use of distance technology i.e., email, text, audio or video conferencing or a combination of these varied means of communication, to develop mentoring relationships. Lastly, higher education student mentoring in educational institutions refers to college or university students mentoring students in schools. 3
Studies indicate a correlation between mentoring and development. For instance, results of the investigation conducted by L.Eby et.al. demonstrate that mentoring is associated with a wide range of favorable behavioral, attitudinal, health-related, relational, motivational and career outcomes. Mentoring increases desirable behavior i.e., academic performance and job performance, and decreases undesirable behavior i.e., dropping out of school or substance use. Mentoring also has a positive effect on the mentee’s attitude towards the activity they engaged in with their mentors. Mentoring relationships also help boost the emotional well-being of a mentee. It enhances the mentees interpersonal relationships and his or her motivation. Finally, mentoring relationships promote career success. 4
- Peter Hawkins and Nick Smith, Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consultancy: Supervision and Development (Maidenhead, England: Open University Press, 2006), 39, accessed July 20, 2018, http://www.questia.com/read/119852999/coaching-mentoring-and-organizational-consultancy.
3. Ibid, 51-148
4 Lillian T. Eby et.al. “Does Mentoring Matter? A Multidisciplinary Meta-Analysis Comparing Mentored and Non-Mentored Individuals”, Journal of Vocational Behavior (April 2008) 72, 2, 254-267, accessed July 20, 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352144/