Guest Commentator:  Rebecca Zinn, Assistant Professor, Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Fox Management Consulting at Temple University’s Fox School of Business

What does Fox Management Consulting’s recent involvement in Pay It Forward: Mentoring Our Future Leaders show about the importance of mentorship for regional talent retention?

A June 2016 survey by determined that Philadelphia has 95 percent of the qualities that are most desired by young professionals ages 18–34. In fact, Philadelphia topped the list of 20 U.S. cities included in the survey, beating out New York, Los Angeles, and Boston for the No. 1 spot. I’m not surprised—this is a great city! From a thriving job market to affordable home prices to great pizza (all qualities identified by those surveyed), the Greater Philadelphia region offers young professionals ways to build meaningful careers and lives.

Data from the U.S. Census suggests that young professionals recognize our region’s benefits. Over the past 10 years, two-thirds of Philly’s new residents are within the 18–34 age cohort, and 18–34 year-olds currently comprise 29 percent of Philadelphia’s population. This influx of talent presents an opportunity to build our city and our organizations by investing in the young professionals who are here.

When it comes to career growth, research shows that young professionals look for leadership development and regular, honest feedback from those more senior in an organization. Effective mentorship has the potential to fulfill these needs and lead to increased retention.

Fox Management Consulting (Fox MC) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business provides Fox MBA students with this type of guided mentorship by pairing MBA consulting teams with a dedicated executive advisor. Together, these teams work on a business strategy or marketing consulting project for a client, giving mentors an opportunity to coach MBA students through an experience that stretches their capacities.

Over the years, we have served thousands of MBA students and completed more than 350 consulting projects for clients that include Fortune 500s, national nonprofit organizations, early stage firms, and healthcare organizations. With effective mentors—mentors who provide students with honest feedback, who genuinely care about their development, and who steer their teams to a successful outcome for the client—our students report that they develop competencies that have a lasting impact on their careers. They build new leadership capabilities. They sharpen interpersonal skills. They learn to navigate complex business environments. They recognize opportunities to shape an organization’s strategy.  And in the process, they develop a focused vision for their own futures.

In our experience, mentorship provides young professionals with a path for growth, one that keeps them engaged. And we find that the best mentor relationships continue beyond the conclusion of the official project and last for years to come.

Firms that cultivate mentorship create an environment that encourages young professionals to contribute their ideas, build their careers, and invest in others as they grow.