There are various definitions of mentoring, especially those that emphasize the role of the mentor. For example, Megginson and Clutterbuck (1995), described mentoring as “off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking.” While the mentor’s role is crucial, I believe that the mentee is equally important.
Personally, I define mentoring as a mutually beneficial professional and/or personal relationship between two individuals. Mentoring allows people to relate to each other, share their experiences, and gain satisfaction from inter-connectivity.
A Sun Microsystems study found that both mentors and mentees advance faster in their careers than people who aren’t involved in mentoring. Additionally, the following lists the advantages gained by both parties in a mentoring relationship:
- Insight and perspective from someone with experience in the mentee’s study or field of interest
- Access to authentic informal advice and feedback on personal and professional goals
- A trusted adviser and personal cheerleader
- Someone to bounce ideas off of
- Potential career advancement
- An industry contact and introduction to mentor’s network
- Sharpen leadership and management skills
- Recognition as an industry or field expert
- Opportunity to change someone’s life
- Reevaluation of career and/or personal goals
- Exposure to new perspectives and ideas
- Satisfaction from helping others advance
- Establish a career and/or personal network with potential future leaders
Gaining a mentor can be done via a formal program, where program coordinators match mentors and mentees based on common interests and career goals, or organically – friendships in the workplace, family friends, friends of friends, friends, etc. Go forth and find your own mentor, or share your wisdom with others.