How to Give Younger Generations a Seat at the Table
Insight provided by Makenzie Gagne, originally published on March 31st, 2022.
Mentorship, allyship, and sponsorship are some of the most influential relationships for young professionals. Individuals with higher ranking or experience can be a connection that curries opportunities for the future.
Millennials and Generation Z are in a position where, after graduating from college, they are now in the spotlight to be the next surge of leaders. In this new role as incoming professionals, they are in a position of superiority and can use their experiences to teach those younger than them. It is strange to think that time has flown by so much that these generations now have the power to directly affect the trajectory of young adults.
Mentors and sponsors are similar in the fact that they can support young people, but they use different approaches and teaching strategies. Sponsors use their position to create opportunities through referrals, internship opportunities, or assisted networking. One of the easiest ways to initiate a sponsorship would be to introduce the sponsored person into the sponsor’s network that has already been established. With this new network, the younger professional has the privilege of seeing new perspectives on power, influence, and status as well as creating relationships with individuals that can be mutually beneficial; thus strengthening bonds and continuing the sponsor’s role in the social network they are a part of.
Another influential aspect of a sponsorship is the candid feedback between each party. The younger individual, who is learning and developing professionally, can receive an unbiased, professional assessment of their performance. These assessments can drastically improve individual growth. Those who have mentors or sponsors are 78% more likely to volunteer regularly and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.
The most overlooked benefits of a sponsorship are recognition and promotions. Having someone in your corner to be there at your lowest and recognize your accomplishments when you’re on top of the world is very needed in the professional world. Validation and encouragement can be extremely impactful for someone just starting in the work force.
This kind of relationship, which takes effort to establish, encourages high-potential professionals who need just a little more support. By becoming a sponsor, you are putting yourself in a leadership position that can directly affect the future of someone’s life.
Some have the worry that “I’m not ready yet” or “ what if I can’t give them good enough opportunities.” When joining the workforce, there can be a sense of fear or imposter syndrome that can stop even the most experienced individuals from becoming sponsors and mentors. However, the definition of a mentor is “an experienced and trusted advisor,” so age or rank should not be a limiting factor. Impostor syndrome affects 65% of professionals and creates an unsustainable work culture where people feel they are under-qualified or “not good enough.” Regardless of how high your status may be, if you believe you can provide advancement, advocacy, or an opportunity, then you are a perfect candidate to be a sponsor. Please consider the impact you could make on someone’s life by taking them under your wing and helping them develop.
“The Importance of Mentors and Sponsors in Career Development.” JPMorgan Chase & Co., 2022, https://www.jpmorganchase.com/news-stories/the-importance-of-mentors-and-sponsors-in-career-development#:~:text=While%20a%20mentor%20could%20provide,opportunities%20and%20be%20more%20visible.
McDaid, Elizabeth. “How to Be an Effective Sponsor: Leader’s Edge Magazine.” How to Be an Effective Sponsor, Leader’s Edge Magazine, 16 Sept. 2019, https://www.leadersedge.com/brokerage-ops/how-to-be-an-effective-sponsor.
Mentor. “Mentoring Impact. Connect with a Young Person.” MENTOR, MENTOR National, 9 Feb. 2022,
News Desk. “Imposter Syndrome Affects 65% of Professionals, Reveals New Study.” Fair Play Talks, 21 May 2021, https://www.fairplaytalks.com/2021/05/21/imposter-syndrome-affects-65-of-professionals-reveals-new-study/.
Thank you for reading this insight written by Makenzie Gagne, an Associate in the Mel Rines Angel Investment Fund. To learn more about The Fund, please visit https://www.rinesfund.com/
Makenzie is a sophomore from Londonderry, NH with a dual major in Finance and Sustainability. This is her first semester in the Fund, and she is excited to work among talented peers to gain firsthand experience and knowledge of private equity investments. On campus, she is also actively involved with Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional business fraternity, and is a member of the Rutman Fellowship