Mentoring vs. Coaching

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a mentor and a coach?

Since January is National Mentoring Month, we thought we’d take the opportunity to explain!

Here’s the quick version: mentors are role models who speak from a place of experience. Coaches are collaborators who specifically focus on working with you to achieve your goals.

Of course, many mentors have a collaborative approach and work hard to help their mentees achieve their goals. And many coaches are able to draw on experience – in fact, some Wily coaches had similar college experiences to Wily Scholars.

But at the end of the day, what’s so wonderful about having a mentor is that they’ve already been through what you’re experiencing, and they’ve come out the other side with wisdom and advice. We seek out mentors in our careers to find out what worked for them when they were in our position, or what they wished they’d done differently.

That’s not exactly what coaches do. Instead of focusing on how their own experiences can help prepare, inform and guide you, coaches focus on how your experiences, thought processes and desires can help you set and achieve your goals.

Mentors offer you tools from their toolboxes. They’re able to provide you with examples of how they found success, tips and tricks based on their experiences, and advice based on what they wish they’d done differently. Coaches help you build your own toolboxes. They help you identify where you can learn what you don’t already know, think through how you can decide what will best serve your goals, and establish what strategies help you clarify your thinking.

Both mentoring and coaching can be helpful; we’ve all benefited from mentors who offer us tools from their toolboxes. At Wily, coaches aim to help students use their own knowledge, skills and goals to build their own toolboxes.