What is Mentoring?

Young man helping another young person climb up a mountain

Mentoring is a relationship created between two people that are based on communication, counsel, and support. It is commonly defined as “a relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.” In a mentoring relationship, one is advising and supporting the other individual to obtain a set of skills and assets to benefit the mentee, someone else, or an organization.

Types of Mentoring:

There are two types of mentoring, formal and informal. Formal mentoring is a relationship that is more structured. It is usually based on a specific objective and can be seen more commonly in the commercial and business world. Mentors in a formal mentoring relationship are expertly trained to coach and guide their mentees. The goals behind this type of mentoring are to acquire skills or knowledge to fulfill a specific duty.

On the other hand, there is informal mentoring. Informal mentoring has little structure and is based upon the chemistry and relationship between two people. Informal mentoring is bound together by the social and emotional ties between two people and tends to branch into a long-term friendship. There usually is no expert training material involved and the mentoring directly benefits the life of the mentee. Both of these types of mentoring are equally important to have in life. Formal mentoring is typically beneficial as an adult, while informal mentoring is tied to positive youth development.


The origin of mentoring comes from the legendary Homer’s Odyssey, written in 800 BC. The story of Odyssey is set back in 1200 BCE and is about Odysseus, the king of Ithaca who has to leave to fight in the Trojan war. While the king is gone, he leaves his son in the care of a guy named Mentor. Mentor was responsible to not only be a friend to the king’s son, Telemachus, but he was also responsible to teach, guide, and give advice to the prince.  That is why when someone who helps counsel and supports you at some point in your life, they are called a “mentor.”


The impact of mentoring is astronomical. Mentees are receiving one on one, personal attention from someone who cares about their future. Studies have shown that youth who have a mentor have a higher academic achievement, physical health, socioemotional competence, and improved decision-making skills and goal-setting self-efficacy. The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching ran a three-year study. According to the research, 91% of teachers who were regularly coached by a mentor made a dramatic change in their approach to teaching, their students were participating more in the classroom and were excited to learn.

The impact of mentoring does not only benefit the mentee, but the mentor can receive positive outcomes from their time in the relationship. Since mentoring is primarily voluntary, it becomes extremely rewarding. You can also develop more of your leadership, communication, and social skills.  This proves that mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship.


There is a lack of mentoring resources for youth in the United States. 16 million youth do not have a mentor or an adult in their life that they feel they can talk to. Out of these 16 million youth, 9 million are at risk, this means they are considered to having a higher chance of dropping out of school. Students failing out of school is a problem many adolescents are affected by in this country.

A recent statistic said one in every four students do not finish high school. This is why there is a large need for mentors, due to the lack of young people having a positive role model in their life. Research has shown having a mentor is tied to improved academic and personal life situations. Students with a mentor are 78% more likely to volunteer and 55% are more likely to attend college.


Mentoring is a practice that has been around throughout the history of mankind. It can be used to benefit an organization or improve the life of someone who is less fortunate. According to Vansgird, “it is the mentor who draws the best from the junior person by acting as an adviser, teacher, role model, motivational friend, and supportive advocate.”

Mentoring is a practice that most youths are not fortunate to experience. Here at IYDE, we take this epidemic seriously. We are dedicated to educating others on how to be effective mentors and improve youth education programs. By using customized turn-key solutions, we train and coach your team on how to create positive life-long effects in the lives of the youth they impact. For more information on how IYDE can take your organization to the next level, give us a call at 513-623-4608 today!

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