Careers

Goldman Sachs exec says young professionals need this more than a mentor

Stopping by your boss's desk before leaving, and helping out with any last-minute work, helps you stand out.
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Stopping by your boss's desk before leaving, and helping out with any last-minute work, helps you stand out.

As the head of human capital management for Goldman Sachs, Sally Boyle has overseen thousands of interns and employees, she writes on the bank's blog. From her experience, there are a few things that set successful young professionals apart, and one of them is who you know.

To get ahead, young professionals not only need a mentor, she writes. They need a sponsor.

A sponsor is someone above you in your company's chain-of-command who can advocate for you, while a mentor is anyone who gives professional advice but ultimately may not have any pull for you at work.

Boyle says that many professionals she's worked with tell her that "having role models, access to sponsors, networking opportunities and manager support are all key factors to help progress their careers."

But she says that women are much less likely to have sponsors, partially because they underestimate the importance of this relationship, she writes. Because of that, they're missing out on a huge opportunity.

Finding this person "plays a valuable role in career advancement, but sadly, women are only half as likely as men to have a sponsor," she writes.

"The majority of women underestimate the pivotal role sponsorship plays in career progression and fail to cultivate those relationships effectively or early," she writes.

The good news is that it doesn't take much work to develop these key relationship with someone at your company. A quick coffee is all you need to get started, she says.

"Simply work with someone, impress them," she writes, "build a relationship, ask them for feedback and then impress them more. That person will then want to invest in you and a sponsor relationship will develop naturally."

Check out General Motors CEO Mary Barra on what to study if you want a high-paying job in the future.