Mentoring Resources for UCLA Staff

The University of California, UCLA, and Campus Human Resources aim to foster a culture of mentorship by offering a range of resources to UCLA staff. This article provides foundational knowledge to support staff and executives in forming authentic mentorships. Mentorship is a reciprocal and collaborative relationship between a senior and junior employee for the purpose of the mentee’s growth, learning, and career development.

What type of mentorships exist?

Formal Mentorships

Mentorship relationships can be built and maintained formally or informally. Formal mentorships are often formed through a structured program that includes an application process, a pairing process based on desired criteria like career field, a predetermined format or curriculum, and a fixed time frame.

Informal Mentorships

Due to the need for considerable administrative support, formal mentoring programs are less abundant, making informal mentorships more accessible. Informal mentorships form organically through interactions at work or through targeted networking and informational interviewing. Informal mentorships are not time-bound, and the “mentor” and “mentee” titles may never be requested or used.

A Personal Board of Directors

Individuals seeking mentorship can consider forming a “personal board of directors,” rather than a formal mentorship. In business, a board of directors is an executive committee that jointly supervises the activities of an organization in service of its growth and profitability. A personal board of directors is a group of individuals with varying experience and expertise who are willing to support your growth and profitability and provide advice on an ad-hoc basis. are available for you can go to for advice at any time.

Group, peer, remote, reverse, and speed networking are other common ways mentorship is cultivated. There are many ways for individuals to deliberately, but authentically, build relationships with colleagues who are willing to develop and coach, challenge and support, and advocate and champion for their growth and advancement.

How do mentors and mentees work together?

Mentors typically provide advice and coaching as it relates to the mentee’s goals. It’s common for mentors to provide guidance to mentees about organizational structure and culture, career exploration and decision making, effective communication, emotional intelligence, and work-like balance.

When mentees are paired with a mentor in their career field, mentors can also serve as subject matter experts and provide technical training or guidance. This type of supplemental training is often done through “case studies,” which are examples of current or past work conducted by either the mentor or mentee. The mentor or mentee will prepare the case, the pair will simulate executing the work, and the mentor will teach best practices along the way.

In addition to practicing technical tasks, mentors and mentees can review case studies related to interpersonal situations, such as delivering sensitive information to a manager or resolving a conflict with a peer.

What are the benefits of mentorship?

Benefits for employees who receive mentorship on a formal and informal basis include higher levels of job satisfaction, clarified career goals, enhanced skills and knowledge, increased confidence and sense of belonging, and expanded professional networks that support the employee’s growth and advancement.

There are also several benefits to UCLA departments and organizations that encourage and facilitate connections between staff at varying levels within or across functional teams. Mentorships contribute to the development of a better-trained and engaged workforce. Mentorship programs are a powerful recruitment and retention tool because they demonstrate that the organization values its employees’ learning and belonging.

More critically, mentorship is highly effective for retaining and elevating staff members who have been historically marginalized. Intentional mentorship supports the organization's goals of creating a diverse workforce and an equitable leadership pipeline.

How can mentorships be maximized?

Due to the hierarchical nature of the relationship, it's easy to assume that the mentor dictates the mentorship goals, agenda, or cadence. As it turns out, mentees are the true drivers of the mentoring engagement. Mentees will get the most out of their mentor’s time by clarifying and communicating their goals and requesting experiential learning activities, like job shadowing or skills practice.

Once trust is established, mentors and mentees can share their invaluable human capital by connecting one another with other people in their professional networks. Sharing contacts is just one way that mentees can add value to the relationship and mentees should continuously look out for other non-financial ways to show appreciation to their mentor. The best form of gratitude a mentee can demonstrate is by acting on the advice the mentor shared and following up about the results of those activities.

Next steps

If you’d like to know what formal mentoring opportunities are available at UCLA or if you’d like more information about developing professional relationships, please explore our Box folder of Mentoring Resources for UCLA Staff.