Do you need a mentor or a sponsor to advance your career?

Both can be helpful at different times in your career. Sometimes having a mentor and a sponsor at the same time is useful, depending on your career goals.

Here is one woman's story of when she realized the difference:

What Is A Mentor?

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A mentor is someone who

  • usually works in the same field as you

  • knows your strengths and weaknesses

  • can help you articulate what you want from your career

  • gives advice to help you build new job skills

A mentor isn't someone who

  • uses their network to help you get your next promotion

  • talks to others about how great you are as an employee


Which of the following would be appropriate to ask your mentor?

What Is A Sponsor?

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A sponsor is someone who

  • is usually in a senior position at your company

  • talks to others about how great you would be for that promotion you want

A sponsor isn't someone who

  • will help you develop new skills personally or professionally

  • cheerleads you as you move up in your career


What might you ask your sponsor?

Mentor Or Sponsor?

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Meet Carolina.

She has been working at a bank for five years and is almost done her MBA, but feels stagnant in her career.


  • is torn between trying for a leadership position in her current department, applying in another department, or leaving the company altogether

  • needs help weighing the pros and cons of each option

  • would welcome someone putting in a good word for her with their network


Which option would you recommend to Carolina?

Take Action

When looking for a mentor and/or sponsor, keep in mind that:

  • A mentor usually works in the same field as you.

  • A mentor can help you develop your skillset.

  • A sponsor is usually more experienced and has a large network.

  • A sponsor can leverage their network to help you get your promotion.

To get started:


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