Imagine starting your PhD in your bedroom: that may well be the situation for many of our new PGRs in 2020/21. To reduce their geographic and social isolation we need your help to extend a huge virtual welcome to all our new PGR students.
We'd like to be in a position to offer all those who commit to starting their studies with us a buddy. Think how good it would be to receive an email and hangout, zoom or facetime from someone who knows what you’re going through. The buddy scheme is part of a package of support for new PGR students who might never have been to York (or the UK), and who may feel even more distanced than the rest of us at this time.
Purpose: buddying is an informal relationship between a current or recently graduated PGR student and a new PGR to provide a friendly welcome, a point of call and to support the individual to settle into the University, particularly when working remotely. You'll both be an ambassador for the university and for excellent research.
Characteristics: buddying is typically a grassroots activity born out a desire to help new colleagues and PGRs integrate into the culture of the institution and department. It's often short term, focussed on the present. You're not expected to be their friend for life (but you can be if you want!).
Outcome: integration of the new PGR into their research group, department, the York Graduate Research School, the wider University and the city of York. We want happier, integrated students who feel they belong and are part of the University, even if and when they are not physically on campus. We'll make a number of resources available to you including interactive campus maps and virtual cafe hangout space.
Focus: to support and help new PGRs settle into the University, to signpost information and support offered by the University and introduce them to peer networks where possible. This is particularly critical while you're both working remotely. A Google hangout or facetime chat can make all the difference.
Duration: buddying may last for a few months or longer, as serves both parties.
Any existing or recently graduated PGR student from York. You'll probably be in the same faculty but not necessarily the department, especially where they are small.
Have an online chat with them before they start their studies, answer questions, tell them about their department, what they can expect and how they can get involved with activities. Provide a welcome and direct them towards important information. Tell them about the city of York, what goes on, how they can get involved, what they have to look forward to when they get here. Listen to their concerns and questions and signpost them to people in the department who can help them.
Be a coach, counsellor or doctor.
You'll be provided with information and online training to help you think about how you can best support your buddy.
Volunteering can help you find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills and demonstrate to employes and funders that you take civic duty and giving something back seriously. It shows you're a team player with emotional intelligence, empathy and a creative approach to problem solving.
These skills and qualities are highly prized by recruiters. On a personal level, helping others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated and provide a sense of purpose. In the current climate we all need something to make us feel useful and valued; buddying can help with that.
If you feel able to contribute and help a new student settle in and provide a friendly point of call of call, please complete an expression of interest form.
There is no deadline for applications, but we're looking to secure as many volunteers as possible by the end of June to see if we can offer all new PGRs a buddy.
There are several mentoring schemes in place for staff at the University, but nothing that recognises the unique position of PGRs and the contribution you make to the research culture at York. Recognising this, we're introducing a pilot scheme that focuses on supporting and enhancing your postgraduate research experience at York. It is available, in the first instance, if you're a PGR in the last 18 months before your submission deadline.
The application, matching and review process for the pilot scheme have been designed to support your specific needs as PGR students. The scheme is designed to complement (not replace) the supervisory relationship by providing an opportunity for you to discuss and develop your skills, behaviours and approaches to your research, professional development and careers with a more experienced postdoctoral researcher. Find out more details about the mentoring scheme.
The scheme is being run by People and Organisational Development (POD) in collaboration with the Research Excellence Training Team (RETT).