A few things are telling me it is my first day back in work after a holiday – the first one being that I have forgotten my library card / key. That wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t that all kitchen facilities are on the other side of a card-locked door and 4W café is not yet open. I suppose I will just have to wait a bit longer for a caffeine fix. The other reminders are my scarily tidy desk, my hazy memory of passwords and the fact that I can’t seem to remember with any clarity what my job actually is. So by way of a little memory jolt and to while away the minutes until coffee can be mine without doing anything too taxing on the brain I’ll share one of the things I can remember from before I went away (Madeira by the way – thank you for asking).
Induction has been consistently highlighted by both doctoral students and staff as an area we could improve on. One thing in particular that existing students have explained that they would have appreciated during their own early weeks is a visible and neutral point of contact to answer simple queries and provide or signpost help. In response to this we are planning, this year, to deploy a small group of existing doctoral students from across the faculties to provide peer-to peer support during the period late September to early November. By creating an “induction team” of fellow students we hope that barriers to seeking support will be minimised and to send a clear message that the focus is on student interests. The team will have a visible presence in the new Graduate Commons, Graduate Centre and across campus – providing friendly faces, signposting new doctoral students to relevant events, facilities and support services and helping to create a positive doctoral community experience from day one. It’s very much a trial and will be developmental.
Of course peer to peer support is nothing new - many departments are already running mentoring or buddy schemes for doctoral students. The induction team will be expected to support and mesh with such arrangements where they exist. Hopefully we may also inspire a few more mentors for the future.
If you are an existing doctoral student interested in taking part or a member of staff working with doctoral students do check out the details via JobLink https://www.bathstudent.com/jobs/vacancy/3584/. The roles are paid, provide great opportunities to develop personal and transferable skills such as coaching, team working, events and communication skills and may even generate that nice toasty feeling that comes from doing something worthwhile. The closing date for applications is Sunday 4th September.
OK, now for coffee…