The Internet is a great source for information; however, the Internet can also provide an overwhelming amount of information and data. After long hours of research, the conclusion resulted in creating a new definition by combining and eliminating many definitions. Mentoring is a process of forming a relationship between two individuals (mentor and mentee) that have value and trust to promote motivation, inspiration, and even create challenge among each other to be successful.
Mentors are individuals who posses’ knowledge performs duties of council, friend, or advisor, and have positive intentions for the individual they are mentoring. Merriam-Webster defined mentor as “a trusted councilor or guide” and mentee as “one who is being mentored or protégé”. Anyone can be a mentor or a mentee.
There are essentially two categories of mentoring: formal or non-formal.
- Formal mentoring: Formal mentoring does not mean it is formal in attire or formal in meetings. It means the mentoring is through a program that has developed structure and guidelines such as Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of South Alabama or WINGS provided within the school system Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) or a Mobile County Youth Advocate Program. There are many mentoring programs or Youth Advocate Programs (also known as YAP) across the nation. The mentoring program has documentation of mentors, mentees, and measures the effectiveness of the mentoring program. Many programs have funding from grants, donations, fees, or other funding source that builds accountability.
- Non-Formal mentoring: Non-formal mentoring is the simplest form of mentoring. One individual (mentor) has an interest to help another individual (mentee) by building a positive trusting relationship. There is no formula, time limit, or age limit. It can be a teacher taking a specific interest in a student’s academic career or a coach spending extra time with a football player during practice providing guidance and advice. An individual can seek for someone to help them by looking for a mentor. This can be in guidance in education, career, spiritual, etc. On the other hand, an individual with a specific knowledge can reach out, help, and guide someone in his or her path. It is non-formal mentoring in action.
Mentoring whether it is formal or non-formal, it has great value. Mentoring makes an impact in someone’s life, in our society, and the community by helping someone; you are also helping yourself and your community. Mentoring makes a difference.