Anyone who wants to embark upon academic, personal, and/or professional growth through the creation of an intentional and reciprocal relationship with a mentor, including faculty, staff, and students.

Mentees may be involved in a formal mentoring program, but this is not required in order to be considered a mentee.

Mentoring relationships are not always labeled as such, as oftentimes they develop organically. If you’re seeking out a mentoring opportunity, check out this list of current mentoring programs at Iowa, connect with your advisor (for students) or supervisor (for staff/faculty/student employees), and consider the relationships you have already created on campus.

Mentoring relationships may develop as part of other interpersonal relationships with:

  • Advisors
  • Coaches
  • Supporters
  • Tutors
  • Supervisors
  • Professors or instructors
  • Sponsors
  • Peers
  • Role Models

Although mentoring can arise out of these other relationships, it is important to delineate the unique aspects of mentoring compared to other relationships mentees may form. A mentor is different from an advisor, supervisor, or professor. Although these individuals may take on the task of mentorship, effective mentoring requires going beyond providing specific professional advice or emotional encouragement (UNL Handbook).

To understand the contributions of a mentor, consider the multifaceted definition of mentors as individuals who):

  • Are knowledgeable and experienced, or otherwise holds influence, in their field of interest
  • Take interest in developing another person’s career, academic trajectory, and/or well-being
  • Commit towards advancing the scholarly, career, or personal development of the mentee
  • Advance academic and/or professional goals in manner most desired by mentee
  • Tailor mentoring styles and content to the mentee, including making adjustments to accommodate differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, age, and student experience, among several other self-identifiers (Rackham, Alvarez et al., 2009; Paglis et al., 2006)

Refer to the chart below to see how mentoring differs from advising and coaching, two common relationship structures you may find on campus.

Mentoring Advising Coaching
Focused on growth and development of individual and can be constructed in various forms Bringing awareness to options regarding academic or engagement decisions Often works to complement to advising
May include broad forms of support that include professional, career, and emotional support Based on established practices, policies, etc. Provides skills development to maximize academic and personal potential
Relationships are personal and reciprocal Puts responsibility on the individual to create structure and track progress Understand individual's strengths and challenges and to seek and leverage the right support as needed
Mentors tend to have more experience, influence, or achievement within the educational [or professional] environment