Do you have someone to mentor you? Do you have someone to coach you? Do you have someone to Champion for you?

Mentors will play a critical role in your corporate journey. What many people don’t realize is that there are 3 different types of mentors. Each for a mentor has a different purpose.

The Mentor is the person who supports you. You can discuss your career goals with them, and they share similar experiences, how they overcame them and can give you their lessons learned. The goal of a mentor is the relationship. They should be in your preferred career goal.

I had a few amazing mentors at the beginning of my career. My first mentor at my current company was a PR (Public Relations) Manager, another black woman. When I started in corporate America, working in PR was my dream goal. We met on a monthly basis for lunch and talked through every possible hurdle I could overcome. Things worked out for the best when I told her, I just wanted to get some corporate experience in Public Relations. She allowed me to help her on some of her scripts and campaigns and even tasked me with finding venues for events. This allowed me to grow as a professional.

The Champion is the active supporter of your career. This should be someone significantly higher than you, a senior manager and above. It should be someone who wants to promote your interests and ambitions. Their goal is to see you succeed, and they’re willing to help in any wy possible.

I recently found my champion. My champion and I sat down and discussed my goals. She started making a list of people over the departments that I hoped to end up in. Our conversation ended with her giving me 2 homework assignments. “Email both of these VP’s and tell them what you’re interested in and can you meet with them. I will email them as soon as we finish to tell them about you.” The next day I passed her in the building and she told me she had already spoken to one lady, and she was excited to meet me. That is the purpose of your champion. Your champion should have connections and know who to reach out to. While you should be your own champion, having a champion is a critical part to Corporate Success.

The Coach is someone who dedicates time and effort to help you success. They may teach you technical, soft, or professional skills. Their form of coaching is based on tasks. You’ll need a coach when you’re entering a new department or company and you want to master your skills.

I had my coach for about a year. I just received a promotion and suddenly my tasks were based on finances. The Communications major is me was TERRIFIED! My coach met with me on a weekly basis. She taught me the GAAP principles of accounting, how to build and manage departmental budgets, how to run tons of reports, how to write contracts, and even then some. I suddenly had an entire new skillset all thanks to my coach.

Many people just think of a mentor as a general term, and for some that may be the only important thing for them in order to be truly effective and you being the pilot of your own career.

Action item: Do you have any of the 3? What roles do they play in your professional career? How have they helped you?