Rhianon Washington introduces The Mentor’s Companion: A Guide to Good Mentoring Practice.
‘I am here for you, I believe in you, I will not let you fail. You have the power.’  Pascarelli’s powerful tenet was one of the earliest influences that inspired me to practise, study and research mentoring. I came to mentoring late, having distinguished myself as a less than average student at school. I had drifted from job to job, bored and unchallenged, feeling there was more to me but lazily assuming that could not be – otherwise I would surely have shone at least a little academically. I was, in fact, the perfect mentee-in-waiting.
The turning point for me came in my thirties, changing my life and opening previously closed doors in my mind, generating tangible opportunities with each achievement and spurring an unquenchable thirst to learn more. The vehicle to drive this change was lifelong and work-based learning, and receiving a doctorate in my late forties reinforced my belief that you are never too old. Motivated to share these experiences with other academic latecomers, I subsequently devoted several years developing and supporting adult learners through work-based programmes.
I often think back and ponder why this ‘calling’ did not materialise earlier in my life, and whether those ‘lost’ years should be cause for regret. I certainly wasn’t inspired or inspiring, being clumsy, incoherent and difficult to engage with. Was that the fault of my teachers or simply that I wasn’t ready to welcome learning into my life? Who knows? But I do wonder, if my school had offered me mentoring, whether things may have been different.
A mentor is someone you respect, who guides and enables you to accomplish your own measure of success. This is managed through specific, learnable skills, and after a dozen years of teaching, researching, writing and practising mentoring I decided to pile that accumulated knowledge and experience into The Mentor’s Companion. It has taken some while to get to this point, and I have striven to deliver an understandable yet comprehensive guide to practical mentoring to satisfy a range of needs, whether you are running a mentoring scheme or someone just starting out. I hope it works for you, and that mentoring becomes the positive force in your life as it has been in mine.
Dr Rhianon Washington is Academic Manager of GWLAD/Workforce Development Fellow Wales Institute for Work-based Learning at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
 J. Pascarelli, Mentoring and Tutoring by Students, ed. S. Goodlad (London: Kogan Page, 1998).