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Andreas Ioannidis

Andreas Ioannidis, BA Political & International Studies with Social Science

Labour Councillor, Barnet Council

BA Political & International Studies with Social Science

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I chose Middlesex University because it was a local university; it was a better university than the others that offered me places and because I trusted Middlesex as it had a good reputation.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I studied an access to social work course at Barnet College so I applied to Middlesex University to study Social Work. Because you have six options on your application form, I chose two that were related to social work, two that I liked the sound of their title (one of them had the best title in the world!), and two because of the institutions they were at.

In the end I got accepted to the course that had the best title in the world - Political & International Studies with Social Science.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I have dyslexia and the support I had at Middlesex was great. The support I had made me very happy. It empowered me, gave me ideas, energy and the self-esteem I needed to succeed with my studies. Even now, four years later, I still miss the staff and how supportive they were.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

My favourite memory is of the teachers and how good they were. Maybe it was because I was a mature student, but the tutors were my friends and treat my like friends; like equals or a work colleague and never like someone who did not know anything. They always helped me to achieve what I wanted to achieve, whether it was with my essay, my knowledge, my project, my learning materials, everything. I loved that.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Focus on your studies and do not worry about what other students do. If academics upset you don't let it bother you, just focus on your learning and how to get the most out of your course as that is all that matters.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you get to where you are professionally today?

My course definitely helped me get where I am today. After my Middlesex degree I was able to go to the London School of Economics to do an MA in Social Policy and Planning and that changed my whole approach to everything.

After living, working and studying in Middlesex for several years it has become part of who I am so it has played a big part in making me who I am today; I will always live locally and it will always be my home. One day I would very much like to work at the University as a lecturer.

I still have a lot to thank Middlesex for. I am very grateful to Professor Lynn McDonald from the Social Work department who has been to speak at our council meetings and has spoken to our shadow cabinet member for education. I am very proud of the work that she is doing.

Can you give an example of a time when you put the things you learned at Middlesex to practical use?

As a councillor I definitely put into practice the things that I learned at Middlesex, 100 per cent. Political theories, such as the theories about political parties, about individualisation and communities are all things that I use practically. Things that I learned about geo-politics from Dr Tunc Aybak, the things I studied about social policy and migrations; these are all used when I have meetings with residents who are from countries around the world. The module I studied in multimedia helps me use my computer and access online resources as well as helping my residents access information online.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

I went into politics with the ambition to help people, an ambition that was inspired by many of my academics. I had an academic from South Africa who was an anti-apartheid campaigner and another human rights academic from Turkey and having these activist figures as my tutors helped me decide that this was the course I wished to follow.

The pros are that you can help people and your voice is stronger than just being an individual.

The cons are that you only have a limited amount of time each week to do all of the case work and campaigning and there are sometimes just not enough hours in the day. Councillors only get paid an allowance so we still have to earn a living elsewhere so we have a very fast pace of life.

How did you become a councillor?

I got elected, but it all started at Middlesex University. While I was at Middlesex I had to do a political placement and I applied to work at a trade union but I didn't get accepted so I had to find something else. I wrote to local politicians and none of them accepted me, then one day I was walking to university and I passed by the office of the local MP at the time Andrew Dismore so I asked him if I could come and get experience working for him. He said 'yes' and that was how I ended up getting involved in the local Labour Party.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

Winning a council seat that nobody expected me to win.

The seat was a safe Tory seat so to be able to win an election when the person opposing had a lot of financial backing and was able to print several leaflets a month while I had to rely on three was my proudest achievement so far. I had to rely on volunteers to deliver our leaflets while she was able to pay deliverers and the day before the election Boris Johnson wrote a personal letter attacking me but I still won the election.

I'm an immigrant and as a councillor I still have to work a couple of days a week in a local shop to pay my bills so the fact that I am a nightshift worker while also being a politician is very important to me.

At Middlesex I learned that you should not be scared of presenting yourself, regardless of how low you might think that presentation is. I still try to present my views and ideas because I know that I only want to help people and that gives me self confidence.

What are the top three tips you would give to current students and recent graduates who are looking for a similar career to yourself?

Don't be afraid to listen to people who have the opposite view.

Don't expect that everybody will agree with you.

Know yourself. Everything starts from knowing yourself and knowing that not everyone will agree with you, but all you can do is the best for other people and your community.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

It is very easy to look back and say what you would change. Everybody has advice in hindsight that they would offer to themselves, but the important thing is to look to the future.

Thinking back, I'd like to have been more of an advocate for other social groups so I would tell myself to spend time exploring other groups within our community and be more active and involved. There are lots of minority groups, ethnic groups and women's groups that need support so I would tell myself not to be afraid to search outside my own social sphere for causes to support.

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