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The University of Tennessee

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Mentoring describes a developmental relationship between a mentor who is a person with experience, skills and knowledge, and a protégé (mentee), who is less experienced or skilled in handling professional situations. This relationship may take the form of non-threatening training, coaching, modeling, supporting, discussing, and/or counseling, across time and work contexts. Informal mentoring may emerge between partners who spontaneously discover each other in unplanned and sometimes unexpected ways usually in casual settings. Formal mentoring happens by design, an individual is assigned protégés or it is part of the mentor/mentee responsibilities. Highly organized formal mentoring programs have program goals, schedules, training and evaluation.

There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both informal and formal mentoring such as the effectiveness of matching mentors and protégés, or in some case in finding a sufficient number of mentors to match the number of protégés.

  • Susan Martin, PhD., UT Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs


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