Skip to main content

"Thanks to the support and advice from my mentor at Birkbeck, I'm now doing a traineeship in the European Parliament in Brussels"

Double take: Master’s student and Birkbeck Mentoring Pathways mentee Dimitrios Kelaidonis, and his mentor, former Birkbeck student Emma Davis, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Guinea, share their experience of working together through the mentoring programme, which offers the opportunity for final year students to be matched with a professional mentor drawn from Birkbeck graduates and corporate partners.

Dimitrios stands in a graduation gown and cap, staring into the distance.


After completing an undergraduate degree in European Studies in Greece, I came to Birkbeck to do a Master's in International Security and Global Governance. I wanted a career in foreign affairs, and Birkbeck's course, combined with its history seemed like a great springboard for that.

So, I moved to a new country; I was juggling work with study, the pressures of the pandemic, and trying to build a network and social life. I decided to participate in as many initiatives that Birkbeck has to offer, to meet new people and gain valuable experiences. That's how I found the Mentoring Pathways programme. I thought it could be an interesting way to develop professionally and personally. And it was great because my mentor, Emma, was not just someone with lots of knowledge and advice, she was also a Birkbeck alumna, so we had this natural connection.

Emma and I agreed to keep meeting so long as I got something out of the sessions, or until the objectives we set together were met, and as we kept meeting, we developed a worthwhile relationship.

Through our sessions, I managed to develop my oral and written language skills, and I got valuable insights on various topics I was covering in my academic studies. What's more, I got vital guidance on my career options, my approach to CV building, and interview preparation.

After my Master's, when I was job-hunting, she really encouraged me and made me think about my options. Emma is Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy Guinea, and I wanted to work in Foreign Affairs, which is a very competitive field, so Emma listened to what I wanted then shared her own knowledge, experiences and contacts with me. My main aim is to change the world through my ideas and what I've learned at Birkbeck. Thanks to my Master's and Emma's advice and support, I'm now doing a traineeship in Brussels in the European Parliament in the security and defence sector, as a junior policy advisor.



I've always admired the Birkbeck ethos of being a university for working people and the idea that university education is open to everyone. I found my time at Birkbeck studying Management really valuable, so when I got the alumni email into my inbox asking for mentors to sign up for the Mentoring Pathways programme to be matched with current students, I thought, 'Yeah, why not? Pay it forward!'

We had a mentor training session with the programme organisers, and I found that useful. I must admit, at the start of the mentoring, I stuck to the provided tips and structure quite tightly. But by the end, as Dimitrios' confidence grew, and our relationship developed, the sessions were more free-flowing, and we were both feeding naturally off each other.

There's a great sense of value in being a mentor and knowing that you've helped someone on their path. To me, mentoring isn't about just telling someone exactly what they should or shouldn't do. It's about showing an interest in them, providing a different point of view for them, maybe being a sounding board. It can make such a difference to someone. And it can be tempting to say 'do it this way' to your mentee, but everyone is different and may need or want different things, so really, it's about asking open questions and making them think.

What's really interesting is that as a mentor, you're also learning. Dimitrios is such a conscientious young man, and it's good to meet people who are younger, who have different life experiences, different challenges to what you've had. It's definitely a two-way street, because it allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of culture, industry and society.

Further Information