I have recently become a buddy for a new trainee in the 2018 cohort. This is a very strange feeling as at first I thought how could I become a buddy when I have only been on the scheme for a year!? I didn’t think I was ready to become an informal mentor. The topic came up in my last Action Learning Set (an ALS is where a group of trainees get together to reflect on experiences and question each other on any difficulties they may be having) earlier this year, where one of my colleagues bought up the problem that he had had an email from his ‘buddy to be’ and didn’t know what to tell them! We had a big discussion over what would be appropriate to share, what we would have like to have known this time last year and how much we should say (so we didn’t ruin all the surprises of the scheme!). It was really useful to have this discussion with fellow trainees.
It reflected an experience I had in my previous role where we were interviewing some Band 4 Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Trainees to become qualified Band 5’s and we were asking them if they would like to mentor the new Band 4’s coming in. The responses we had in the interviews were fairly similar to the thoughts we were having as second year trainees – along the likes of ‘we have only been doing this a year how could we mentor someone!?’. But often the best advice you can get is from someone who has been there and done it recently and is still in the process of learning and meeting new people all the time. I am really enjoying the experience so far, it is great to be able to offer help and advice to someone who was in the same position I was this time last year! Even silly questions like what to wear for the welcome event, nothing is out of bounds!