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What Does Mentoring Mean Anyway?

Two Greek Characters

Mentoring can be traced back to Homer's Odyssey and the character, Mentor. Besides that interesting factoid, it's not easy finding a single definition that describes everything mentoring encompasses. But what we can give you is a list of terms that you'll see throughout this site.

Mentorship - a personal development relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger but have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn. 

FORMS OF MENTORING - Formal and Informal

Formal Mentoring - structured program with specific guidelines. Staff/volunteer managed and typically has a determined minimum time commitment. Formal mentorship can move into informal mentoring relationships.

Informal Mentoring - develops organically. Not managed by staff/volunteer and typically has little or no structure. Informal mentoring relationships may stem from structured programs (i.e. faculty advising).


Traditional - mentorship in which the mentor is typically older, further along in their profession, and more experienced than the mentee.

Peer - mentorship in which the mentor is of equal standing- belongs to the same age or social group- as the mentee (i.e. students, co-workers).

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