Genero Search Group's Paul Blumenfeld discusses workplace mentoring

Throughout National Mentoring Month, we will be highlighting different perspectives on The Mentor Effect from community leaders across Massachusetts. Today's perspective comes from Paul Blumenfeld, partner at Genero Search Group. Genero recruits core teams for early and mid stage technology companies.

paulbI run an executive search firm and have been at it for a long time.  I’ve never really thought of myself as much of a mentor, but in each of the past few springs, a handful of friends have asked me to impart my career guidance on their freshly minted college graduates.  Through the years I’ve observed patterns of successful careers and the best advice I can offer is how important mentors can be in one’s life and more importantly, how to go about choosing great mentors.

As far back as I can remember, the old adage, “birds of a feather flock together,” has proven to be accurate.  The best people, at anything, stick together as a group. It doesn’t matter what they excelled at, they found one another and became a unit. As far back as elementary school, the best athletes could be found with other great athletes. Top students spent their time together. Their excellence was infectiousThe group will help each individual achieve their maximum potential. My advice is very simple. Find the best people and learn from them.

This pattern is equally prevalent in the professional world and even more critical to building a successful career. The advice that I offer all people entering the work force is, once you’ve chosen a field that interests you, try to work alongside the very best, proven winners, in that field regardless of financial compensation. Even if it means earning less than you might have initially hoped, it is the wisest move you can make for the long-term. What you give up in short-term compensation; you will more than make up for over the duration of your career. The best in any field will provide growth and instruction well beyond the given field that you are pursuing.  They will also teach you the intangibles of success and the culture of winning. In addition to learning you will also benefit throughout your career by having these people act as your reference. A meaningful reference from a “known winner” in the industry will carry substantial weight with a potential employer. Please note that I deliberately did not say the next time you seek a new job. When you are learning from and working with the best in any given field, the best jobs will seek you. It is a way of guaranteeing ongoing marketability and job security.

When you graduate from college you will be judged not by your accomplishments, but by your potential. It can be argued that the student graduating from Harvard will be perceived by hiring managers to have more potential than the student graduating UMass. The best way to level the playing field is to work with “winners” who will help you pave the way for long-term success. For some, it is difficult to consider a lower paying position that might offer a better long-term career. It might be helpful to think of those first few years after college as graduate school. You may not have a master’s degree, but you will be equipped with the experience, knowledge, and references to set your career on the right path for the long-term.

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