(Career) Match Made in Heaven: Real-Life Success of Nontraditional Mentorships

How two professionals found the perfect fit

Shawn Agyeman, left, found a mentor in sales industry peer Peter Jackson, a Groupon divisional sales manager in Chicago.

“Get a good mentor.” That’s a common piece of career advice, but what does it mean to have a good mentor?  Each relationship is different. Some are formal relationships as part of structured programs, while others are a bit more organic and free flowing.

Check out some real-life examples of mentor-mentee relationships and how each is mutually beneficial in the advancement of careers.

PROFESSIONAL PEER

Mentee: Shawn Agyeman, Groupon Sales Executive, SponsorChange Chief Marketing Officer/Managing Partner, Chicago

Mentor: Peter Jackson, Groupon divisional sales manager, Chicago

Shawn Agyeman and Peter Jackson first met more than 15 years ago as participants in High Jump, an academic enrichment program in Chicago. Agyeman was a middle school student and Jackson was a high school volunteer.

The pair lost touch for several years but randomly reconnected at a party of a mutual friend after Agyeman graduated from college.  “We exchanged contact information and basically just caught up with each other every few months. It’s never been an intense, formal type of mentor/mentee relationship. I just really value his opinions and insight,” Agyeman says.

In 2011, Agyeman was working in Pittsburgh and looking for new career opportunities and it just so happened that Jackson knew of job openings at Groupon, his employer.  Phone calls were made, an interview was scheduled and Agyeman landed the job. “ I always tell Shawn, if you have the courage to forge your own path and the confidence to reach your dreams, you’ll do something great,” Jackson says. “And that’s exactly what he’s been doing.  In 10 years, I don’t see him working for an employer. He’ll be working for himself.”

Nontraditional Mentorship Tips:

Utilize time-saving technology to keep in touch. Since Agyeman and Jackson work for the same company now, they see each other at least in passing just about everyday. They keep in touch via instant messaging during the work-day.

Schedule informal meet-ups from time to time. Agyeman sometimes requests an in-person sit-down discussion to get Jackson’s advice for career-related decisions. “Just last week, he gave me some great advice about sales strategies. Everyone needs someone in their lives who is older and smarter and more experienced.”

Keep it real, direct and constructive. “If I ever need my way of thinking challenged, I know I can call Peter,” Agyeman says. “Some mentors coddle their mentees and are more like cheerleaders than anything else, but Peter always gives it to me straight and I appreciate that.”

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