Mostly sunny with chances of rain

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I was at the launch event for the new intake of NHS management trainees this week. And what a marvellous day it was.

A colleague of mine who’d not had the privilege of working with trainees en masse before marvelled “they’re so full of hope aren’t they!”. Yes they are – and rightly so. They are on one of the country’s best management training schemes, working for organisations that match their values base, in jobs that will enable them to genuinely make a difference to people’s lives. There’s so much to be hopeful about.

I follow a number of trainees on Twitter, the 2012 intake have just started their flexi placements and my news feed is full of people having ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’ experiences, clearly enjoying so much the opportunities that are open to them. I was a management trainee myself and can relate to this excitement; indeed I pride myself on being an optimist and generally seeing the sunny side of things.

But sometimes it rains. With social media full of people recounting the marvellous time they’re having you can be forgiven for thinking you’re the only person sitting under a cloud. I can promise you you’re not. So for those who are currently getting rained on or who can see the storm clouds looming, here are a few things that I’ve noticed that are pretty normal patches of bad weather for trainees (and others!) and some ideas that I hope might help.

They’re going to find out I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing

You’ve recently finished university, you arrive onto the scheme full of hope and are given the real, stretching job you were promised. And then you have to get on with it. Then you experience what a good friend of mine describes as ‘the vikings’. Marauding their way through your brain, the Vikings parade around reminding you that you genuinely have no idea what you’re doing and – sooner or later – you’ll get found out. This is the imposter syndrome. It happens to pretty much everyone. Read this excellent blog for ideas of what to do about it.

I can’t have the impact I wanted to

It’s really easy to get hung up on job titles; to assume that until you’re a general manager, a head of department or a director you can’t make the changes you want to. Sometimes that’s true, but trust me, the main people in the NHS are looking for ideas and energy and if you’ve got those you can make a difference. Use any link you can to share your ideas and I promise you you’ll find some like minded people.

I have no idea what to do

This is not the imposter syndrome, this is when you’ve been asked to do something and don’t have a clue where to begin. It’s so important to ask for help, don’t feel bad about doing it, it’s much better to ask for help early on than struggle and find yourself in deeper water at a later date. Use line managers, other trainees, other managers – anyone you can find!

I find that doctor/nurse/manager really intimidating

Another common one. It’s very easy to get intimidated by the many brilliant people in the NHS. The thing is – they’re all people. The closer you can get to engaging with them on that level the less intimidating they’ll be. Try inviting them for coffee or find out what they like doing out of work and chat with them about that. I once found myself doing a triathlon to get a doctor on my side, this is a little extreme but you get the point.

And, most importantly, know that it will pass. Know that above the clouds the sun is still shining and there are people around you to help create a bit of wind to clear them away.

The Storify page is now available with highlights on social media from the welcoming event.