Author: Monty Cerf

William Montgomery Cerf

Mentoring for Success

Monty Cerf

Colleges and universities frequently offer mentorship programs, yet such offerings appear far less commonly in the earlier stages of education. However, considering the intrinsic benefits of these programs, primary education institutions may wish to consider changing that.

Mentorship increases the value of a student’s education by allowing them to work hands-on with experts and advocates of formal learning. Students learn to ask for help without relying too fully on their mentor’s instruction, and they can personalize their educational goals with the help of their guidance.

While these benefits commonly apply to all mentorship programs, Monty Cerf states that it is important to note that not all are alike. There are at least 4 types of mentorships from which students may benefit.


Mentors offer their students support in a variety of forms. They do not act as mere tutors or advisors who simply provide instruction on how to navigate lessons or academic protocol. While such services may be included, they also work closely with students to help them discover how their studies relate to them on a more personal level.

The approach for guiding the mentee may depend largely on the type of mentorship they embody. These types are:

  • The Expert – The most well-known and widely sought type of mentors are those who have already excelled in a particular field of study relevant to the student’s preferred career path.
  • The Champion – The life coaches of the education world, champions may help mentees find internships or independent study opportunities to expand their education and further their career.
  • The Anchor – Academia sometimes takes an emotional toll on students, but this mentor excels in keeping their mentees grounded.
  • The Copilot – Some students play dual roles, acting as both teacher and student in partnership with a trusted peer. This is essentially the academic version of a buddy system.

Successful instruction may lead way to the more uncommon fifth type, the mentee who leads by example. Effective guidance creates a student capable of demonstrating what they’ve learned in both speech and action, producing a ripple effect that benefits their peers by virtue of sheer association.


There are a plethora of benefits to this type of coaching, but they may be split into two basic categories. The first pertains to academic and educational benefits, while the second relates to more personal benefits such as socialization and self-actualization.

Goal Setting

While counselors expect their students to stay on top of academic assignments and will help them to excel in doing so, this alone would do little to differentiate them from tutors or academic advisors.

Advisors go the extra mile by helping students dive into the work on a personal level. Not only do they learn to study like true scholars, moreover, they learn how to identify their own strengths and set personal goals for their education and future career that will utilize these strengths as effectively as they’ve utilized them in academia.

Monty Cerf

Support vs. Enabling

Despite the undeniable advantage mentored students have, an advisor’s job is not to act as a crutch. This would accomplish little other than teaching students to rely on others’ instruction, rather than learning to responsibly employ their own problem-solving skills.

A well-defined relationship between counselor and student should include boundaries. Mentees must learn to ask for help when they need it, yet also learn that some problems are better solved on their own. In fact, they should arguably endeavor to approach most issues on their own the first time around, then recap the results with their mentor later.

By advocating for the student while simultaneously encouraging them to advocate for themselves, mentors guide students through a balanced approach to self-actualization. Students learn both their strengths and their limitations, and that there is no shame in accepting either one or acting upon it when seeking the best possible solution to a problem.

In Conclusion

Mentorship benefits students greatly. In copilot mentorships, these programs might be said to benefit the counselors as well. While it makes sense for guidance to thrive at the collegiate level, the existence of mentorship types besides experts and the potential benefits of mentorship at all ages suggest many students would benefit from an increase in availability of such programs.

Techniques for Mentoring Students and Young Professionals

William Montgomery Cerf

Mentorship can be a rewarding way to prepare students and young professionals for their careers. A mentor takes on a lot of responsibility when they take on the mantle, but the work is worth it. Studies have confirmed that mentoring has a considerable positive impact on students. 

William Montgomery Cerf explains that some of the best ways to mentor and teach students and young professionals involves knowing what to teach, as well as strong communication. Constructive criticism will allow students and young professionals to learn from their mistakes. Additionally, an empathetic approach will lead to mentorship success. 

Students and young professionals need competent mentors. Through effective mentorship, they’re given the foundations for a productive future. 

The Impact of Mentoring 

94% of workers have indicated that they would stay longer at a business that invested in helping them advance. Mentorships implemented as part of a learning and development program will raise the rate at which companies keep employees. 

A study by Deloitte indicated that 83% of the employees surveyed found mentoring advice they received through learning and development programs satisfactory. 

Mentoring sets up new members of the professional workforce up for success. It can open the doors to new resources and tools otherwise unavailable to students and teach them valuable interpersonal skills.

Ways To Mentor

It’s not a stretch to say that mentoring those fresh on their career journeys is valuable. How, then, can mentors make the most of their positions – for themselves, their mentees, and their companies? 

·         Know What Skills to Teach 

Mentoring is not about showing young professionals how to adhere to the employee handbook and log into the customer management system. Mentorship gives students the tools they’ll need in any position they pursue. These skills apply inside or out of their current company or internship. 

The most valuable skills to teach include, but are not limited to: 

  • Networking – Give young professionals the scoop on who to talk to. Teach them what events and groups will propel their professional development. 80% of employees concur that networking played a vital part in the advancement of their careers. 
  • Career Progression – A mentor should be able to guide new employees on how to take an active role in their career progression. 
  • Leadership – As a mentor, leading by doing will begin to sow the seeds for future confident leadership. 

·         Communication 

Communication is an optimal skill for every aspect of life, both professionally and personally. Mentees should be the ones taking the reins on their own career trajectories. Mentors are there to help keep them on the right path and should avoid cutting in with their own personal career growth desires.  Successful mentors get to know the student’s aspirations and lay out a roadmap to achieving them. Engage in open dialog about their expectations for their mentors and turn them into actionable behaviors.

William Montgomery Cerf

·         Deliver Constructive Criticism

Part of acting as a mentor is overcoming the missteps that a student or young professional may make when they’re starting out. Critique should be tactful and actionable. Insulting or degrading a mentee severely hinders professional development. 

Deliver criticism while remaining respectful and trustworthy by sharing a personal experience. Mentors who lay out a ‘don’t make the same mistake I did’ pathway -from the situation to the mistake, to the lesson learned – provides a full frame of reference for new employees. 

Students are not going to get it all right on the first try. Be patient and provide applicable, constructive feedback. 

·         Employ Empathy 

To better empathize with mentees, mentors should listen, engage with them. Attempting to relate to their students helps mentors approach learning effectively. Practice curiosity and open-mindedness. 

Every employee is different. A common mistake made by mentors is assuming that their students will act and work exactly as they once did. Embrace the individuality of each student and young professional.


Mentorship is beneficial on all counts. The mentor, mentee, and company are set up for success from a robust mentorship/learning and development program.

When it comes to becoming a mentor, those with the ability to communicate and empathize will be able to impart lessons about leadership, networking, and career progression to students and young professionals.