What is Mentoring?

Mentoring has been defined in a variety of ways, by a variety of people, and in a variety of contexts, both professionally and personally.  Many of these definitions are highly credible and valid, but we have found that the definition of mentoring is tailored specifically to each organization that practices and values mentoring.  The following definition of mentoring was developed by the Pathways Center staff with the mission and values of the college at the forefront of its development.  We believe this definition reflects the meaning of mentoring for all faculty, staff, and students pursuing their potential at Wartburg College.

"Mentoring is a voluntary, mutually-beneficial journey two individuals take together to reflect on previous experiences, learn about themselves, and pursue their potential.  Although the mentor typically imparts wisdom and knowledge, and the mentee studies and discovers, both collaborate and make meaning through consideration of their passions, skills, interests, and values in pursuit of their own individual callings."

Mentoring is...

  • a developmental partnership where the mentee takes an active role in furthering their own learning and development; the mentor serves as a facilitator of growth for the mentee
  • a challenging and supportive relationship built on the history, experience, and knowledge of both the mentor and mentee
  • an opportunity for a mentor to share their insight, wisdom, and experiences in addition to facilitating the mentee's growth and development through reflective conversation, reasoning, and questioning
  • a continuous conversation of the mentee's growth and development with access to resources, connections, and/or relationships
  • a possibility for a mentor to share and reflect on their knowledge and expertise so they might further develop themselves through the mentoring relationship

Mentoring is not...

  • a relationship in which the mentee passively receives instruction from the mentor
  • an opportunity for a mentor to mold a mentee into a version of him or herself
  • a partnership where the mentor aims to solve all the mentee's problems or gives them all the answers
  • mandatory under any circumstances, meaning the partnership can end at any time should the individuals seem incompatible with one another