Leadership / 09.22.20
When the Mentee Becomes the Mentor … and Then the Mentee Again
When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of kung-fu movies on TV. My favorite part of many of those flicks was when the student completed their training, foot-swept the sensei and went to deliver the death blow to their fallen teacher only to pull the punch at the last possible instant. And the martial-arts mentor would look up at his pupil proudly and say something like, “Ah, now the student has become the master.”
Allyson Kidd is a special breed. The Box Office Manager at North Charleston Coliseum, PAC & Convention Center is part of the INTIX Mentor Program as both a mentor and a mentee. She partly credits the pandemic for this intriguing distinction.
“For this year in general, I have struggled with some internal issues within my building,” she says. “I really wanted and needed someone I could talk to, work through some situations, and help me grow and understand how to come at things from another side and another perspective. With everything happening with the pandemic, it’s not been easy. What a lot of people who work in the box office world can agree on is that many times, we get left out of conversations with the rest of our building. Sometimes, we seem to be on our own island. That has gotten to a place where it was hard for me. We’ve gone through some furloughs, and sometimes it’s just lonely being the only person in an office every day. I signed up to have a mentor to have someone to chat with and bounce ideas off — ideas like how arenas are doing seating charts now with social distancing and so forth.”
That mentor ended up being Christina Allen, Senior Manager for the Box Office at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. The two met at INTIX Dallas in 2019 when Allen chaired the Education Committee and Kidd was one of the panel’s members. “Right now,” Allen says, “I am just giving her support and talking her through all of the craziness that’s going on and how to manage it. It’s been good for me, too, because her box office opened back up before we reopened. So, I’ve been able to pick her brain a bit on some of the stuff she’s done. We talk a lot about how to manage different situations.”
At the same time, Kidd has been mentoring Angela Cooper, Box Office Manager at the Macon Centreplex Coliseum & Auditorium at Spectra in Georgia. “When I signed up to be a mentor,” Kidd says, “I didn’t really know how the process worked or if someone would want me to be their mentor. It’s been hard for everybody during this whole coronavirus crisis. I figured if I could first just be a friend and provide a listening ear to somebody going through this, why not? It’s been important to have that in my life.
“I found that you get to pick your mentor. Angela used to work for me here in North Charleston. She was one of my ticket seller supervisors when I first started, and she and I just clicked. I can remember the day [three years ago this coming January] she told me she got her current position in Macon. It was such an exciting moment for both of us.”
INTIX linked the two of them back up just as the pandemic was taking hold of live events nationwide and around the globe. “Basically, she is helping to keep me sane during this time,” Cooper says. “We’ve been chatting about different issues that have been coming up, all of the canceled shows we’re dealing with. We’ve also been brainstorming things that we can do to fill this time, whether it’s revenue-generating ideas for the building or different training techniques we can brush up on while we have the time. We just talked a couple of days ago. I am training another ticket office person during this time, and I ran into a couple of difficulties. You run into people who have different learning styles, and you have to be able to adapt your teaching and your training techniques. So, she and I worked on that. Taking her advice, I can already start to see a positive change with the person I am training.”
Kidd talks about Cooper the way a teacher describes her best student. She uses words like “grace” and “ease” when describing her demeanor and ability to work under pressure. Kidd also says that she is learning a lot from her mentee. “Our buildings are set up very similar,” she says. “We both have minor league hockey teams that we’re trying to help right now. We both have theatres off-site and an arena on-site. I think we’ve been a big help to each other through this.”
Kidd was born and raised in North Carolina. She interned at the Greensboro Coliseum before eventually getting a part-time job at the venue’s ticket office. “I was told this was going to be something I will either love or hate,” she says. “I had no box office experience. And here we are, seven years later. I loved it from the very beginning. There’s something different every day. It’s almost like you are fulfilling dreams for other people with every concert or show you put on. It’s such a fun feeling to walk out into an arena and see it full of 20,000 people and know that you did that.”
She credits her first boss there, INTIX member Amy Venable, for playing a key role in guiding her early in her career. To this day, their friendship continues and still revolves around the work. “Between her and me and two other INTIX friends, we did weekly Zoom calls for a while at the beginning of the pandemic to check in on each other,” Kidd says. “We still try and do them every couple of weeks or at least once a month. We have a group text message going also. It’s great to get feedback from different people in different regions so you know how other people are handling things and setting up new events. This is especially true during this crisis because things are so different from state to state. It’s such a great resource to be able to reach out to the people within INTIX who you are close to and say, ‘This is what happened at work today, and I just wanted to share with you.’”
All three professionals had positive things to say about the INTIX Mentor Program in general. Again, most stressed its importance during these challenging times. “I feel like we all have experiences to share,” Cooper says. “I am sure some people are like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I really know enough to be mentoring somebody,’ but I bet there are a lot of people who have enough experience they can share and help others in this industry, particularly now.”
“The INTIX Mentor Program is a great opportunity,” Allen says. “You learn just as much as a mentor as you do as a mentee, at least in my experience so far.”
Perhaps Kidd summed it up best: “If you’ve been thinking about it for a while but are still on the fence, definitely do it. You’re not just helping yourself, but you are able to help someone else. In this day and age and the world we’re living in, it’s especially important to be kind and to help the people in your space who need help. It’s also a great networking opportunity because you are meeting a new person. And that person has a whole network of people who you probably don’t know. It’s a spider web of information and of people to meet.”
Ready to get involved in the INTIX Mentor Program? Click here to learn more and sign up, and check out the Access articles below to read about the value of INTIX mentorship.
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