The meaning and definition of mentorship

Published Dec. 29, 2018

Different people assign different meanings to the word ‘mentorship’. The detailed definition is not always quite clear to everybody. In this post, we explain the differences between different kinds of mentorships, and how we define it.

The meaning and definition of mentorship

The definition of mentorship

A good idea is to look at a dictionary and see how mentorship is defined there.

“Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.”

Simple enough. Mentorship includes a ‘mentor’ - an experienced individual - who is meant to guide a ‘mentee’ - a less experienced person.

This means, that mentorship is not only between a very experienced, senior person and a student, it may as well be between a junior engineer and a student, a designer with three years of experience and one with ten - there is no limit.

When talking about mentorship in practice, there are two ways on how mentorships are being formed.

Informal Mentorship

In this case, a mentorship is formed without specifically mentioning it.

For example, a young student might email a more experienced person for advice and gets an email back. Over time the young student keeps reaching out to that person and keeps getting advice.

Over time, the experienced person gets invested in the mentees life, might even start checking in and offer help without question.

This is the perfect scenario. More often than not, the mentorship relation won’t be formed because on of the ends doesn’t connect or somebody stops responding.

Formal Mentorship

A solution for that is formal mentorship. In this case, mentors offer their services on a public platform, often against a small payment. This is in first line a way to keep mentees accountable - mentees often sign up for mentorship otherwise and never actually end up reaching their goals or talking to their mentors.

The mentorship is formed and clear from Day 1. The services are laid out and it’s often possible to switch between multiple mentors (MentorCruise does this with a 7-day risk-free trial!)

With this way, it’s possible to get mentorship, grow and succeed quicker, even if it involves more commitment from both sides.