By: Sadiyah Afzal
(Univiser Customer Success Manager)
As an International student myself, I found the buddy program to be quite effective in my transition in moving to another country to pursue my education. However, nothing is perfect and even though the Pro’s outweigh the cons, there were a few things that I thought could be amended for it to hit the perfect guidance mark. These are the 6 things I think as a prior mentee would help further enhance or be useful to the current buddy programs.
I would have found it helpful if I had been paired with a mentor before my arrival so that I would have answers to simple questions like, how does move in day work? Or how does the visa system work? More importantly assigning buddies prior to arrival would help with the fear of loneliness.
As a mentee, I felt that being paired with a mentor with similar interests in clubs or societies really helped. I was guided well, in regards to the best hangout spots or most interactive clubs and the best clubs for FREE FOOD. As a weirdo it felt good to be mentored by someone just as weird as me, made it feel like there were more people like me out there.
Flexibility is a key component, sometimes as a newbie there is always the pressure to show up places early or make it for everything because you need to make an impression. However, if the mentor was calm and flexible it would take that pressure away and allow newbies to be their selves from the get go.
Mentors need to maintain good communication with mentees, this way the mentees can trust mentors and not be afraid to ask them question thinking that they might be labeled as Daft or Stupid. Having an effective communication platform that would adhere to both the Mentors and Mentees schedules would go a long way.
In my buddy program there were 10 of us assigned to one buddy sometimes it felt like there was a lot more work to get the required attention. Our buddy would ask us to refer to the other mentees for advice they had already conveyed. A smaller group would be better as larger groups can be quite intimidating.
In Universities we usually see people of the same countries stick within these groups and it becomes their comfort spot. However, this takes away the purpose of going overseas for an education and meeting different people. I would personally vouch for mentees to be mentored by Nationalities different to their own so that they can explore different cultures and understand how different yet similar they are.
With Univiser.io, we have worked hard to implement the 6 Do’s after not only taking our personal experiences but also research. Our founder was the former SU President of Nottingham University and he founded the buddy program there, so our product comes from a place of familiarity. In this new norm, Newbies require more assistance than before and we have taken all factors into consideration to ensure the smoothest and most effective Buddy Program possible.