Enlightening Perspectives: Views From the SSP Mentorship Program is designed to share personal stories from both mentors and mentees at the front lines of the SSP mentorship and fellowship programs to inform, inspire, and entertain.
Christen Pruitt, Business Development Manager, Wiley
Having a mentor like Kent Anderson has increased my confidence, expanded my network, and upped my game. Humble-brag alert: I’ve always been confident, socially successful, and ambitious. So as thrilled as I was to have access to Kent thanks to the 2017 SSP Early Career Fellowship, I wasn’t convinced that the mentor-mentee relationship would change me. I was sure I’d learn, but not necessarily change. Kent is an amazing mentor not only because of how generous he is with his knowledge and experience to teach me the rules of this game we call scholarly publishing, but also because of how honest he is with his advice—pointing me in better directions, challenging my assumptions, and connecting work life with real life.
The networking benefits of the Mentorship Program soon became obvious. When I was overlooked for a promotion in favor of a male colleague, he set me up with Ann Michael who, “probably has 10x the insights I ever will about issues like this.” And of course, he was right. Ann gave me great advice and I soon moved myself two levels up in the organization, out of editorial, and into a business development manager role on the corporate sales team.
When I was frustrated that upper management wouldn’t take my serious ideas seriously, Kent challenged me to “have that ‘extra gear’ of persistence anyone needs when at a disadvantage for obvious or non-obvious reasons.” That persistence got my proposal into the strategy document submitted to the executive leadership team.
When our real lives connect over pizza and beer I have these corny moments of realizing how lucky I am to have a mentor, to have Kent as my mentor, and how much I have changed since the spring of 2017. The success of the SSP’s mentors and mentees reflects the culture of relationship-building, knowledge-sharing, and reality-checking that makes this organization and this industry uniquely lovable.
Kent Anderson, CEO, Redlink
I’ve been asked to mentor before, and with hardly any success. Each time before, the mentee has been participating in name only, it has seemed—showing up for a handshake, then ghosting, despite outreach. Christen Pruitt took the SSP Mentoring Program seriously, and that seemed to make all the difference. With a sincere approach to mentoring from both sides, the results were for me far better than anything I’d previously experienced.
Christen’s enthusiasm and sincerity were the real difference in how effective I could be as a mentor. She wanted to know things, get advice, lay out issues, network, and grow as a professional. We’d have great email exchanges, phone calls, conversations at meetings, and even a memorable dinner at the first pizzeria I’d ever been to where I was asked “How would you like your pizza cooked—regular, crispy, or burnt.” I also learned that when it comes to blending professional emails with modern Instagram-inspired humor, nobody beats Christen.
To me, having a mentee who was sincere about her professional and personal growth made all the difference to my experience. Working with Christen gave me a much more positive opinion of what the SSP Mentorship Program can accomplish. It also helped me make a new friend in the industry—someone who has helped me learn and see things differently, as well.