The Insights Programme

Insights in person - Andrew

Andrew invited students to find out more about the European Commission in Brussels. He tells us why the Insights Programme is great for everyone involved. 

Andrew McInlay

Why did you want to get involved in Insights?

When I heard that the University was piloting the Insights Programme to help students from less advantaged backgrounds, I knew then and there that I had to volunteer to be an alumni host. It was a gut reaction.

While I have worked hard to get where I am, I wanted to make sure that I gave something back. I hope that the students whom I was able to host in 2018 and 2019 feel that they got something out of their Insights visit.

I am also doing something completely unrelated to my degree so the message I wanted to get across to the students was the importance of the transferable skills that the University imparts on us.

What experiences did you offer students?

I have taken part in the Insights programme two years in a row.

In 2018, I was pleased to be able to offer the students a tour of the European Commission’s headquarters and hold an information session on our role in the European Union’s legislative process. I also gave them some insight into my work as a Media Officer for Migration and Home Affairs. We capped off the visit with a meeting with Sir Julian King, the UK’s European Commissioner.

In 2019, we were able to visit the College of Commissioners’ meeting room. With the help of a colleague, I was also able to offer insight into the work of the European Union’s decentralised agencies, such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.  

What have you gained from taking part?

The Insights Programme afforded me some visibility at the highest levels of my organisation and also enabled me to expand my personal and professional networks.

More importantly, I learned from the students. I learned of how hard they had to work to get to University, about the worries they had about climbing the first rungs of the career ladder and their concerns about the impact that their choice of study programme might have on their career direction and future prospects. Allaying those fears, on the basis of my own experience, was a reward in itself. 

What would you say to others thinking of getting involved as a host?

I would absolutely encourage other alumni to take part. While not much effort is required from you (a few hours of your time), you do get out of it the effort you put in.

In my case, a personal outcome is some increased visibility at the highest levels of my organisation – which I make sure goes hand in hand with speaking at other alumni-related events organised by the University.

The University of Edinburgh has been good to us, and it never hurts to stay in touch and help, if you can.


Get involved

If you are inspired to help students, get in touch.