Confused by all these terms? You’re not alone! Here’s more information about how these terms are commonly used:

Mentoring:
This is typically a long term relationship between a mentor and a mentee. Usually the mentee drives the relationship requesting to connect with someone more senior in their field or a field they’d like to go into.

In some organizations , there are also “reverse mentors” that allow more junior people to mentor more senior people on a new technology. In a reverse mentoring situation, it’s still best for the more senior person to initiate the relationship. Many organizations have formal mentoring or reverse mentoring opportunities. Girls in Tech Phoenix also has a mentoring meetup the 4th Wednesday of every month, more info here

Coaching:
Typically a shorter relationship, this type of interaction is focused on a specific thing the one being coached wants to accomplish. For example, if you want to improve your presentation skills, you may partner with someone who has admirable presentation skills to help you improve. 

Manager:
Your daily manager can be a great coach on a specific skill, but they are not typically a mentor. They will likely assist you with advancing your career and give you feedback, but the mentor relationship is usually with someone outside your direct reporting chain. 

Bottom Line: These terms can start a conversation, but it’s up to the people in the relationship to define it and make sure it works for both people involved. There’s no substitute for ongoing and open communication! 

Written by Roxanne Kirk
Roxanne Kirk is a member of the Marketing Committee for Girls in Tech Phoenix. She has experience in the HR/payroll tech space and is passionate about supporting women in STEM fields.

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