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  • Julia Fausing Smith

Virtual Mentorship Could Help Ensure Diversity During and After COVID-19


COVID-19 has made virtual mentoring services more important and necessary than ever.

With education disrupted, students don’t have the same access to careers services and events, meaning they are missing out on vital networking and development opportunities. This year’s university leavers will be entering the job market at an uncertain time, filled with hiring freezes, job scarcity and high levels of unemployment.





"COVID-19 will have serious economic consequences for the country. When opportunities are sparse, it is likely to be those from poorer backgrounds who suffer, as opportunities are kept close to those with resources, contacts and know how.”

There are concerns that this will reverse the work of diversity initiatives over the last few years. According to The Sutton Trust, COVID-19 “will have serious economic consequences for the country. When opportunities are sparse, it is likely to be those from poorer backgrounds who suffer, as opportunities are kept close to those with resources, contacts and know how.”

This will likely stall progress on diversity, particularly in sectors that still have a long way to go. International politics remains largely ‘pale, male, stale’ and London-centric. A strong culture of unpaid internships and nepotism persists, shutting out diverse talent.


People working in international politics represent the UK to the outside world - yet they still aren’t reflective of the country’s population.

At Out of London we're addressing this lack of diversity through virtual mentoring and matching people who want to kick start their career in international politics with senior professionals in the policy and development world. We aim to lower the ladder to international politics to people from outside London who don’t have the social or financial capital to break in, by creating opportunities to make essential contacts and gain insight into the field. Current mentors come from the House of Commons, NATO, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the World Bank.


The virtual nature of the scheme means that mentees can access invaluable career advice wherever they are based and don’t have to wait for an ease in lockdown measures to get vital guidance on taking the next steps in their career.

“There are countless talented people throughout the country who can bring something unique to the UK’s international voice, but who unfortunately do not have the chance due to circumstance and bias."

Out of London Founder, James Christopher Jennion, is a Policy Specialist in the House of Commons, but first came to Parliament through the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme, which aims to diversify Parliament through paid work opportunities for people from working class backgrounds.

James explains “there are countless talented people throughout the country who can bring something unique to the UK’s international voice, but who unfortunately do not have the chance due to circumstance and bias. We’re trying to help change this.”

Minister Andrew Stephenson MP said: “It’s important that we make sure opportunity reaches talented people from outside of London as well as in, and bring down some of the barriers to the policy world. As a northern MP, it’s great to see schemes like Out of London working to help more gifted people get into foreign policy work and shape the future of our country.”

Stay up to date via our social media @outoflondonorg.

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