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So...What is a Mentor, Exactly?

The word “mentor” has a lot of meanings, whether looking it up in the dictionary or asking what it might mean personally. So, how do you settle on one term? Let’s look at the different types of mentoring and how they could apply to Marines or Marine spouses.

Formal Mentoring

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 or mentee). Sometimes, there’s a formal program that matches a mentor to a mentee, like when Marines are assigned a sponsor when arriving at a new duty station. The formal relationship might be long-term — for example, a year— or it might be a single conversation. Having a strong mentor will help shape a junior Marine’s career whether short or long.  

The Single Marine Program (SMP) offers mentorship opportunities through the SMP Council. These opportunities increase the quality of life for Marines while bettering their mental and emotional health.

Formal mentorship programs exist for military spouses as well. Marine Corps Family Team Building offers opportunities for L.I.N.K.S. mentors to support spouses in their journey through military life. Contact your installation MCFTB for information. Interested in additional options? Reach out to the Military Spouse eMentor Program and the Spouse Ambassador Network, to find out more and locate participating organizations.

Many organizations provide formal mentoring programs for veterans and military spouses. The Marine For Life Network recently profiled American Corporate Partners (ACP), eMentor, and Veterati.

Informal Mentoring

Mentoring doesn’t always occur through a formal program. Any person who is very knowledgeable about something, or has more experience, can be an excellent informal mentor, even if that person is a peer or is younger or more junior.

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 installations’ Marine Corps Family Team Building (especially with L.I.N.K.S.) as well as private organizations like Blue Star Families and The Rosie Network.

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 Program, Family Member Employment Assistance Program, and by visiting Check out the Marine for Life Network on LinkedIn. You can also follow the Marine for Life Network on Facebook and Twitter.

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