Ask Becky

In-Person Career Coaching and Life-Changing Experts

What’s the difference between a mentor, a sponsor, and a champion? How do I get one (or all)? —confused

Dear confused:

A mentor is someone with expertise or experience who provides guidance and support for your goals and growth. Many people seek a mentor outside their current organization so they can process difficulties or challenges with candor, or get advice about a job transition without potentially concerning a current employer. Some quite intentionally seek mentors with shared identities; others focus on relationships with people unlike them.

Sponsors and champions are both advocates for you, and they tend to be in a more senior position. In some organizations, new employees or team members are assigned a sponsor. They provide support and challenge to help you learn, improve, and enhance your skills and knowledge in service of the organizational mission and goals. While a sponsor can also be considered a coach, the term is more typically applied to a person you seek out or hire for a specific area of development or skill- building (as opposed to someone assigned to you).

A sponsor helps elevate your visibility, informs others of your strengths and talents, and advocates for your involvement in projects or initiatives. Champions do these things, too, but tend to be much more senior and are likely less involved in your day-to-day development. They are active and enthusiastic in support of you, often in places where you cannot be yet (i.e., they already have a seat at certain tables).

Not everyone is going to have all these people in all the same ways at the same time. The main takeaway is that relationships matter. The time and intention you invest in building your own “network of advisors” will pay huge dividends over the course of your life.


Are in-person career coaching appointments available now? — advice-seeker

Dear advice-seeker:

Absolutely! Career coaching appointments for alums are available year-round, via telephone or video and in-person.

If you live in the region or plan to come to town, I am available and enjoy meeting alums in person (with whatever public health considerations are in place at the time, of course!).

The Career & Civic Engagement Center supports undergrad and GSAS populations, and the GSSWSR has its own dedicated career support. I work with alums who graduated more than one year ago; my career counseling colleagues offer appointments to individuals in the first year after graduation.

We are particularly excited to welcome students and alums to our new home in the Wellness Building. This new campus hub offers students a centralized place to receive counseling and medical attention, career and civic engagement programming, and many other services that bolster the quality of a student’s life. The building is located between Erdman and Pembroke halls, adjacent to the current Health Center site.

You can read more about Alumnae/i Career Services and career coaching on the Career & Civic Engagement Center section of the Bryn Mawr website. Even if you don’t schedule an appointment, next time you visit campus for Reunion, Homecoming, or any other reason, stop in and see us!

Need help navigating the world of work? Career guru (and Bryn Mawr’s senior associate director of Alumnae/i Career Services) Becky Ross takes your questions at