Most people know about the importance of having a mentor, but the goal should be to get a sponsor. The difference is that a sponsor is someone within your organization or network that is part of upper management and can assist you in advancing your career. They have some sway in their field and can vouch for your abilities, which may help you land strategic assignments or positions.
A mentor is good if you are just starting out in your career and need some guidance. They can suggest training and give advice on ways to build on your professional competencies to move up in your industry. Mentors usually play more of supportive role than an advocate role. Sponsors usually keep an eye out for new opportunities for you to participate in such as volunteering, education, and projects. Also, they may even bring new job opportunities to your attention and refer you as well as introduce you to influential people.