Investing in the careers of others

Whether you realize it or not, there are a number of other individuals that can have a positive impact on your career development.  We can choose to go through our careers alone, but finding others willing to invest in your career can be the difference between a mediocre career and a fantastic one.  Additionally, for those farther along in their careers, serving others can make your own career more fulfilling and enjoyable.  So, take a look at these to see whether any might make a difference to you:

  1. Mentor
    • Individual that dedicates time to a mentee to provide perspective, honest feedback, suggestions, experiences, guidance, etc. on an ongoing basis
    • A mentor can be part of a formal program or informal
    • One that helps guide an individual on career choices, alternatives, etc. in a confidential manner

Example: Senior individual assigned to a junior individual to meet twice/month to share experiences and work to advance the career of the junior member

  1. Coach
    • Individual that provides specific feedback on a given situation or activity
    • Individual that guides an individual in a specific area or targeted behavior improvement
    • Individual that consistently provides feedback to give behavioral or performance improvement

Example: Supervisor or co-worker that provides feedback to you after a meeting you led providing constructive criticism on things to do differently the next time

  1. Sunshine (opposite of Shadow)
    • Individual that allows another individual to follow or observe what you do or how you do your job
    • Individual that shares insight on a particular job or activity

Example: Individual willing to let you follow them around for a day to learn what your job is about and how you perform under normal circumstances (e.g., you might shadow someone involved in project management to learn whether you might like to work toward a career in that area)

  1. Advocate
    • Individual that frequently speaks up for or advocates for a specific individual or an individual’s talents/skills/abilities
    • One that will “go to bat” for another

Example:  Your former supervisor consistently speaks up for your during annual talent review discussions or directly works with others to advance your career

  1. Sponsor
    • An advocate that will potentially put their own career on the line to support another individual
    • Strong, vocal supporter that diligently seeks the advancement of another individual

Example: Individual that independently works to advance an individual by seeking new opportunities, creating opportunities, etc.

Do you have or are you serving in any of these roles?  Can you see how your own career might benefit if you became involved in one of these career enhancement relationships?  Please find someone that can and is willing to speak with you about these roles and how you might benefit.  Without these individuals involved in your career, you can be successful, but your odds of career acceleration are greatly improved when you ask someone else to invest in your career.  And, by personally investing in the career of others, you enhance your own gratification as you watch them benefit from your experience.  Have a great day!


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