skip to content

Personal and Professional Development


The term ‘ mentoring’ is interpreted in different ways, and is often used interchangeably with ‘coaching’. Both can be about sharing particular areas of expertise and knowledge that the mentee needs; as well as about developing the individual whether or not they work in the same field. The two ‘processes’ can take place in the same session. For simplicity's sake, we use here the term ‘mentoring’ to cover all the processes involved in supporting the individual.

Within the context of the University of Cambridge, we identify these types of mentoring:

Type Details
Induction mentoring*
  • A mentor should be assigned to you as a new member of staff, to help you orientate yourself to the department and its procedures, policies, personnel, sources of help and information, location of key equipment — and to help you ‘survive’ your first few weeks in a new post.
  • They may act as a neutral and impartial confidante for any concerns or difficulties you may have in settling down, and help you to work out strategies for success.
  • Generally they will not be someone in direct authority over you, and usually someone from outside your immediate circle is found, though preferably doing a similar or related role.
  • See also the  Role of the induction mentor.
Peer mentoring
  • As you progress, colleagues can ‘peer-mentor’ each other either in particular areas (such as teaching observation or project management) or for general support.
  • Peer mentoring should still be about progress and development, and be equally supportive of each partner.
  • Peer mentors should hold each other accountable for their action plans, and help each other to achieve their goals.
  • Some of the courses offered by PPD (eg Springboard) facilitate peer-mentoring, as well as helping you to network and find suitable mentors.
Developmental mentoring
  • Research has found that the most effective people may have different mentors for different areas of their professional and personal lives.
  • Your mentoring needs evolve in line with increased responsibility. You may have new duties, taken on new roles, been promoted.
  • Developmental mentoring is about the synergy that two (or more) people can create between them to generate solutions, strategies and action plans, to build on success.
  • Mentoring provides individuals with role models and may be a means of providing information about career and training opportunities (internal and external).
  • Mentoring widens the support network, provides motivation and can improve confidence.
  • With developmental mentoring an experienced mentor helps you to develop your strengths and potential, and identify your changing needs, values, aspirations, and what's most important to you.
  • The mentor works with you to plan your professional development, and your next career steps.

*If you have not been assigned a mentor, or would like to nominate your own, discuss this with your line manager in the first instance. If further support is needed, contact PPD to talk about it, or your HR Business Manager or HR Adviser.

Alternatively, you may prefer to pay privately to work with an external mentor.