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New mentoring scheme inspires Sociology, Politics and International Studies Students

Students at the recent ‘Meet your Mentor’ event

8 March 2017

A new mentoring scheme that connects students with professionals working in a relevant field has been launched in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) at the University of Bristol.

The SPAIS Professional Mentoring Scheme will benefit around 50 second and third year undergraduate students, with plans to expand in the future. The Scheme forms part of a set of initiatives led by the Professional Liaison Network (PLN) team in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law to engage students with companies and organisations that are relevant to their academic subjects.

The Mentoring Scheme primarily targets second and final year undergraduate students, offering them the chance to connect with mentors working in careers related to their degrees. The aim is to ensure that students, regardless of their background and networks, can seek the advice and guidance of a professional within a career area of interest. Aside from the insight into relevant careers, the scheme also allows students to see their academic field in a practical context, giving them a new perspective on their studies.

Students recently met their mentors for the first time at a ‘Meet your Mentor’ event hosted by the School, which included mentors from the BBC, political advisors, civil servants and journalists. There will be a series of further meetings and then a reflective exercise to complete the programme.

Ian Onions, Political Editor at the Bristol Post was prompted to get involved as a mentor to ensure students gain a real-world view of journalism. “I was pleased to [be approached] to take part in this mentoring programme because I think it’s important for would-be journalists to understand what is involved on a day-to-day basis,” said Ian. “The job can be very rewarding and even exciting at times but many students get drawn to the profession because of a romanticised view which is nothing like how it actually is.”

One of the students working with Ian is Georgia Stewardson, in her second year of a Politics and International Relations degree.

Georgia said: “I got involved with the mentor scheme because I was looking for advice on the best way to gain experience within the journalism industry. So far we have had a meeting with Ian to introduce ourselves and will assist him in a Bristol Council meeting at the City Hall. Hopefully this will be a great opportunity to gain an insight into the role of being a political editor and I am really looking forward to taking part in this scheme outside of my normal academic studies.”

Further information

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS)

Professional Liaison Network

For further information about the Professional Liaison Network, please contact Dr John McWilliams, Professional Liaison Manager at

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