Recently, I was talking to a park manager who told me someone on his team was looking for mentoring opportunities. It got me thinking about mentors and how important a mentor was to my career, especially early when I was new to being a park ranger.
I realize not everyone is fortunate enough to get a mentor early in their career, but listen friend, you do not need to rely on a mentor. Not in the way you think you need a mentor.
There are mentor opportunities all around. You don’t need to feel alone because you don’t have a mentor.
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Classic Mentors: A classic mentor is what you think of when you think of a mentor. It is a single person who invests in you and your development.
I was lucky to have a classic mentor in Jack Hartt, who was the manager at the first park I worked at. Jack took time to spend lunch breaks with me, go for walks in the park with me, and answer questions nearly whenever I had them.
Academic Mentor: An academic mentor is someone who mentors you through the content they produce. Books are an obvious way to connect with an academic mentor. For $20, you can spend hours with a mentor and get some of their best advice. Don’t discount this idea. Pick a book, and take in the words with the same weight you would a classic mentor. If you take in a book with the idea of consuming the words, not for entertainment, but to learn and grow and change, it can have the same impact as spending the same amount of time with a classic mentor.
Situational Mentor: A situational mentor is someone who mentors you through a certain situation. If you need to improve a skill, perhaps you can find a situational mentor to help you improve. If you are having a tough time with an employee, you can find someone else who has been through the situation. If you are hiring an employee for the first time, or going for a promotion yourself, you can find a situational mentor to help you out.
Shadow Mentor: A shadow mentor is simply someone you observe. For example, you watch your park manager or superintendent with a deliberate eye towards how they handle situations and how they deal with people. They key here to you have to be deliberate in watching and analyzing what they do and how they do it.
Anti-Mentor: Having an anti-mentor may sound strange and something you want to say away from. But listen, if you find yourself working for a bad boss, you can grumble about it and have a lousy time. Or, you can use a bad boss as a mentor. An anti-mentor. Let them mentor you on what not to do.
Those are the five types of mentors, but don’t overlook the value of friendships. You can learn so much just from the people you hang out with.
Listen to the episode to go in depth with each type of mentor.