Yudi Fernandez Kim partner with Schwartz Media Strategies. Courtesy photo
As many businesses face the reality that there are more open positions and fewer candidates to fill them, the role that mentorship plays with talent recruitment and retention has become more critical now than ever.
Growing up as an immigrant in Miami, I found myself seeking mentorship from a young age. I didn’t have family or friends here that could open doors and advocate for me. My parents were blue-collar workers, so while they were extremely supportive it was difficult for them to provide that level of guidance. Recognizing my limited possibilities, I realized at a younger age that I needed to be proactive about finding mentors that aligned with my interests and goals to help shape my future career path.
Through programs like Women of Tomorrow and All-Stars After School and Summer Camp, both organizations in which I was a mentee growing up in Miami and had the opportunity to support and mentor at as an adult, I was able to access those valuable opportunities. I received mentorship through various organizations from the time I was in middle school through high school. Then, as a young professional, I continued to seek mentorship through business networking groups such as CREW-Miami and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, which was very enriching for me.
When I joined Schwartz Media Strategies (SMS) in 2011 as a senior account executive, I sought mentorship and sponsorship from the firm’s leadership. Tadd Schwartz and Aaron Gordon, my partners and friends today, were people I spent as much time with as I could—even just grabbing coffee or staying late to talk to them. If they were working on a complex campaign that I wanted to learn more about, I would ask to get involved.
As I developed my career in communications, I realized that the best way for me to give back to a community that gave me so much during my youth was by mentoring others, especially in underserved communities because I understand the challenges and obstacles they face daily.
Ten years later, as a partner at SMS, I’m able to see the reward of putting renewed emphasis on mentorship, team building, and community involvement.
Find a Mentor or Mentee Within Your Company
As a young professional, seeking mentorship inside your organization can help you become more successful and open doors for career growth. For example, I was able to pass on what I learned to other young professionals at our integrated communications agency. In fact, two of our rising stars today, which started in our internship program, have benefitted from continued mentorship, becoming strong performers who are underway to achieving great success in their careers.
Beyond mentoring individuals within your own team, also consider a mentor-mentee relationship with rising talent that may not directly report to you today. By cultivating these connections, you’re helping to build the team and their loyalty which in turn support’s the business’s main mission.
Industry Groups Can Open Doors
For those seeking to build their careers, make the time to get involved with organizations that reach like-minded individuals who can give you access to a broader network of mentors.
Whether it’s an industry organization, a business development group or a non-profit focused on a cause that matters to you, they can give you access to mentors who can help you navigate challenges within your own company, serve as a resource in the future and open doors to future career opportunities.
For mentors, look to get involved with organizations that give you access to serve as a mentor for young professionals and even individuals at the high school or college level.
Mentorship Is a Two-Way Street
While the focus is often on the benefit to the mentee, the mentor can learn just as much by getting to spend time and working with a younger individual.
In fact, for those in the C-suite and executive level positions, making the time to mentor can support achieving greater diversity and inclusion within your organization. The perspective that you gain from listening to and working with younger people, including those who are minorities and from different social-economic backgrounds, can help you become a more effective leader.
Plus, it’s very rewarding to support the career advancement of younger team members because by helping them grow, you’re also potentially shaping the future of a profession or industry.
At a time when a lot of businesses are facing challenges finding talent and frustrated by delays in the hiring process, this underscores how critical it is to commit to spending time mentoring people within and outside your organization. Beyond the personal satisfaction, it will support cultivating, retaining, and attracting talent today and in the future.
Yudi Fernández Kim is a partner at Miami-based integrated communications firm Schwartz Media Strategies, where she leads communications, marketing and social media campaigns on behalf of some of the top residential and commercial real estate, construction and financial firms in the country.