One of the few advantages of being one of the world's last remaining smokers, is that you get the chance to meet people you wouldn't come across unless you were sharing an ashtray with them.
This happened to me at the Birmingham Convention when I chatted with a fellow delegate over a fly puff between courses at dinner.
She didn't mean it, but after two minutes I felt as old as the hills when she informed me that she had been with her charity for three days, and that this was her first job since leaving school. Here she was - 18 if she was a day - taking her first steps in the scary world of fundraising, as confident as anyone else there.
Most fundraisers have been something else first - in another career, in another country, or at least, like me, moved over from a related commercial discipline such as PR or marketing.
I don't know that I could have been a fundraiser without having done something else first. So much of what I have done in Charityland has been informed by my life experiences that I must admit I worry about the rookies who come to us straight from school, college or university.
But as finding good, experienced fundraisers becomes more and more difficult, we are going to have to develop new recruits who can learn the rather eclectic ways of the sector and keep their confidence levels high when faced with the constant rejection that is a fundraiser's lot.
I hope their managers are easy with them, that their colleagues take them under their wing and share their experience freely, and they can get the training and knowledge they need. Most of all, I hope they are given time to make mistakes, and learn from them - for who among us hasn't?