Mentor. Coach. Guide. Counselor. Teacher. Instructor. Adviser. The word “mentor” has a lot of meanings, whether you’re looking it up in the dictionary or asking what it might mean to you personally. So how do you settle on one term? Let’s look at the different types of mentoring and how they could apply to you as a Marine or a Marine spouse.
Formal mentoring is a one-on-one relationship where a senior or more experienced person (the mentor), provides guidance to the junior or less experienced person (the protégé, sometimes called a “mentee”). Sometimes there’s a formal program that matches a mentor to a mentee, like when you were assigned a sponsor at your new duty station. The formal relationship might be long-term — for example, a year. Or, it might be a single conversation.
Other times, leaders in your unit may serve as mentors.
Formal mentorship programs exist for military spouses as well. Check out the article, "Finding a Mentor as a Marine Spouse," or reach out to the Military Spouse eMentor Program, and MySECO’s list of Spouse Ambassador Network, to find out more and locate participating organizations.
Mentoring does not always occur through a formal program. People who mentor may not be Mentors (with a capital M), in a leadership position.. Any person who knows more than you about something, or has more experience than you do, can be an excellent informal mentor, even if that person is a peer, or is younger or more junior than you are.
How can Informal Networking Work for You?
- As a Marine:
Informal peer mentoring occurs every day between Marines.
- As a Spouse:
Many organizations help facilitate spouse networking, such as your Marine Corps Family Team Building, L.I.N.K.S, Blue Star Families, The Rosie Network, and The Milspo Project. These all encourage informal mentoring.
- As a Veteran:
Members of the Marine For Life Network informally mentor other members regularly. It’s hard to come up with a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) that doesn’t encourage informal mentoring between members. Check out Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, or the Marine Corps League.
Ready to get involved? Learn more through your Installation’s MCCS Transition Readiness and Family Member Employment Assistance Program and ask the Marine For Life Network on LinkedIn. You can also like Marine For Life on Facebook.