A buddy will help new postdocs from the very beginning.

The role of a buddy for new postdocs

Having a “buddy” when starting a new job can make a huge difference to the speed at which new postdocs manage to settle into the department, the organisation or the new country. Just knowing there is someone there to listen who is genuinely interested in helping them can make new postdocs feel supported. Therefore, a buddy will be assigned to each new postdoc at the start of the working contract.

A buddy is a person of the same age group, meaning early career scientist, preferably working in the same department. A buddy‘s role is to help the new postdoc with all sorts of questions that might arise in a new working and living environment in the first couple of months. He or she should be easily approachable by the postdoc and willing to share his or her knowledge and experiences with the new postdoc. Especially at the very beginning, a buddy might also include the new postdoc in social activities or help establish the necessary connections so that the postdoc will be integrated more quickly in the new environment.


I am a buddy - what is my role?

A good buddy is someone who is approachable, friendly, able to listen, and who is an informal source of information about the department and how things work.

Your role and responsibility as a buddy is not to act as a supervisor, but as a supportive colleague and friendly face. The role as buddy can vary according to the new postdoc and could include the following

  • Helping your new colleague to navigate his/her way around the department and the site. This could include short tours. Arrange a good time to take him/her around to understand the layout of the IPP site.
  • Showing her/him how to do aspects of their new job
  • Arrange to show him/her around the office and explain basics like how the phone and photocopier work, where things are stored, where to get stationary, key documents and policies and anything else that will make it easier for him/her to settle into the role.
  • Answering questions – often more than once. Buddies need to be patient as new starters absorb a lot of information in the first few weeks, and may need to re-ask questions occasionally.
  • Introducing them to other colleagues who are important to their job
  • Helping them to understand the formal and informal culture and structures at IPP
  • To have coffee or lunch at some point so that they can enjoy the social side of work and feel part of the team.


Guidelines for the first meeting

If you have not done this role before you might feel unsure about how to proceed. Maybe this is matched by the new starter feeling a bit overwhelmed by a new task and new environment. In the following you will find some suggestions for first steps, so that you both can establish a good relationship and start making use of the buddy scheme.

  • Arrange an informal meeting, over coffee is a nice touch but not necessary.
  • Outline your role, experience and why you are his/her buddy
  • Find out about the postdoc‘s professional background and experience. Identify your mutual understanding of the“buddy” relationship and how it will work.
  • Clarify expectations the postdoc can have from you
  • Make sure the postdoc knows that he/she can ask you anything regarding work and you will be happy to help – it is important to stress this because often new members of the team are reluctant to ask as they don’t want to get off on a bad foot with their new colleagues.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss how to approach this within your area/department, please contact Elisabeth Wolfrum or Andrea Kleiber.

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