Experts mentoring university students. Purely an act of benevolence?

  • Jenni Kantola University of Vaasa


Mentoring has proved to be an effective supporting practice for students in higher education in terms of building networks, guiding their career aspirations, and building a stronger professional identity. However, we lack a deep understanding of what attracts experienced experts to invest time and energy into guiding students. The latest studies suggest that motives to mentor are strongly prosocial. Here, we apply the concept of benevolence that refers to the individuals´ need to sense of having a good impact on others’ lives. We interviewed ten mentors and recognized that mentors interpret their impact on students by reading signs of gratitude, trust, companionship, and mismatch. The concept of benevolence provides a new perspective on mentors’ motives by focusing on the benefits mentors’ experience and sense. Benevolent acts should not be considered solely from the perspective of benefiting the recipient but also are intended to provide something to the giver.

Keywords: mentoring, mentor, motive, benevolence, self-determination theory (SDT)

4.3 The Future of Nordic Business Education