Career Now Series: The Power of Mentors & Sponsors

Relationships matter.

In this world, it’s all about who you know. Who you know can give you can edge, but how well they know you can really open doors. For this reason, mentors and sponsors are powerful influencers that can guide you to career success.



Let’s start begin with mentors. A mentor is someone that can teach you, coach you, answer any career questions, and shed light on confusing topics in your life. You should seek out mentors that align with your personal mission- not just your preferred industry or shared major. A good mentor enriches your whole life


Sponsors, on the other hand, are the ones that create real career traction. They are the ones that can put you in the position to access new career opportunities, earn promotions and – hopefully – higher pay! They are senior leaders in a place to advocate on your behalf and are willing to put their reputation on the line for you!

Tips for Being an Amazing Mentee or Protégé:

Use your mentors and sponsors to create your own personal “board of advisors” to help you along your career journey. Get to know your faculty, deans, heads of department, and student service offices. Join your alumni association to continue expanding your network. Creating a diverse “board of advisors” can help strengthen both your network and career.

It is crucial to remember that these relationships are two-way streets. As a mentee and protégé, it is your responsibility to build and sustain these relationships. 80% of the work is on you to keep the relationship strong and thriving.

Quick Tips:

  • Send an email to update to let your mentor or sponsor know what is going on in your life, your successes, blogs, etc… Why? Because they take pride in seeing what you accomplish!
  • Ask for asking for letters of recommendation way before you need it. Be ahead of the game and the springtime letter of recommendation trend. If you must ask last minute, give them 6-8 weeks minimum.
  • Always follow up on emails and phone calls.
  • Give support at every opportunity possible! If they have an event, gathering, birthday, holiday, etc… Send hand written cards and notes! It’s a more personal way to show them that you care.
  • Show gratitude. Say thank you whenever you can.


Career Now | Podcast Series

Want to learn more about building your networking and working a mentor or sponsor? Check out the #Passion2Action podcast for even more information and tips. Our partners at Why Millennials Matter are sharing new episodes each week, featuring bonus information and exclusive interviews. Tune in and tweet us your thoughts or questions – tag them #CareerNow!

Get even MORE from the #CareerNow series. Check out all of our recent articles:

First Impressions – Make Them Count!

Getting Started with Career Now

Learning to Lead and Executive Presence

Creating a Portfolio

Building Your Brand Online


#Passion2Action | ACTION ITEM: The Network Spiderweb

Draw yourself on the center of a piece of paper. Map out your community – friends, family, mentors, teachers, co-workers. Every person that you’ve met should be on it. Group them together by location, company, and/or affiliation of your choice. Write down what they know about you and take note of your relationship with certain individuals and groups. The goal of this activity is to realize how wide your network is, and to discover the strength of your community.

Questions to ask yourself after completing your Network Spiderweb:

  1. What most surprises you about your spiderweb?
  2. Where do the biggest gaps exist in your spiderweb?
  3. Which people might be able to fill those gaps?
  4. To whom can you reach out to for stronger relationships?

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