What your career needs: coach, mentor or sponsor?

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During my unemployment, I have participated in different programs and events for job seekers. I mostly get the most out of the longer-term programs, where the relationship is equally important besides the practical help and knowledge. In today’s blog post I will therefore focus on coaching, mentoring and sponsoring. The last one I am still missing to find.

What have all: coaching, mentoring and sponsoring in common?

All of them focus on your personal growth and enhance your career development. They are based on one to one relationship and they work best when the rapport is good and there is mutual trust. Necessarily clear objectives must be set. All of them also contribute to a more inclusive work environment.

But what is the difference?

Often coaching and mentoring are mistaken. Nonetheless mentoring is supposed to be longer guidance in a longer-term career path, while coaching helps through an immediate challenge and it’s usually shorter-term. Sometimes even one session.

A mentor helps you to navigate workplace culture, challenges, relationships and work/career-related decisions. A coach helps navigate the current job’s responsibilities, enhances performance and helps a lot with soft skills.

Mentoring and coaching might be formal, that you know you are being coached or mentored. You might even apply for it. Both might also be informal – some of your colleagues, friends are helping you out with some challenges in your work life or career path.

Sponsoring, on the other side, helps you move up in your career, to be promoted. The sponsor opens doors for you and speaks about you with key people behind the closed doors. The sponsor is your advocate who uses his/her influence to help you.

The mentoring relationship is led by the mentee’s quests, still reverse mentoring might occur and mentoring is usually beneficial for both sides involved.

Coaching usually works one way, where the coachee is the primary beneficiary.

In the sponsor – protege relationship, the relationship is led by the sponsor. Protege needs to invest time into building trust for his/her skills and capabilities.

Put it very simply: A coach talks to you, a mentor talks with you and a sponsor talks about you.

P.S.: To ease your search for some programs for international job seekers mostly in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, there is a list of the possibilities you can try:

1. Womento (mentoring only for immigrant women)

2. EntryPoint

3. Luckan Integration

4. Dörren match program

5. Spouse Program (only for residents in Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo)


7. Auroras (only for immigrant women)

8. Think Africa (they are supposed to start mentoring program in 2021)

9. Helsinki UNI (for foreign students at Helsinki UNI):

10. URA polku organized through the Unemployment Office – you have to be a registered job seeker and you should ask your advisor about this possibility

11. Career Boost (currently re-designing)

12. Building bridges

13. HEI LIFE: for spouses of an academic or employee of a higher education institution in the capital region

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