This year we’re having a monthly series on mentoring. Head here to read the previous posts.
I first heard about “sponsors” in a workplace context about a year ago, and since that first time I’ve seen sponsorship popping up all over, often in comparison to mentorship.
The concepts are similar–both, ultimately, are about career advancement. A mentor’s role is to educate, advise, and give feedback. But a sponsor’s role is to use their workplace capital to advocate for the junior player. A mentor can help you advance in your career. A sponsor can leapfrog you ahead.
Since I first learned about sponsorship, I’ve seen it at play all around me. As my peers move into their late twenties and early thirties, the ones who are finding really interesting work aren’t getting there through traditional job searches or by slowly rising through the ranks: they were sponsored. They built (usually organic) relationships with people of influence who spoke up on their behalf when an opportunity arose.
Success–in life, in work–depends on relationships, but not all relationships are equal. Mentors advance careers; sponsors transform them.
I’d love to hear if you have a sponsor, and how that’s played out in your life. (It goes without saying that sponsorship is not limited to the corporate world. Right?)