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When I graduated from my doctorate in 2015, I had known for a while that I didn’t want to continue within academia. Therefore, I considered my existing skills (especially my scientific skills) and I applied to several relevant jobs in various areas. I was successful in a few of these applications but I chose to join the Civil Service to work in the Chemicals Regulation Division of the Health and Safety Executive evaluating the chemical safety aspects of biocides and pesticides. Although I found this work interesting and rewarding, the repetitive nature of evaluating these applications wasn’t for me. I did however highly value the supportive environment, excellent conditions, and public service mission of the Civil Service.

This situation led me to occasional idle searching of the Civil Service Jobs website to discover new opportunities within the Civil Service (there are A LOT of jobs available within the Civil Service). It was on the Civil Service Jobs website where I rediscovered the Fast Stream (having originally heard about it on campus during my BSc). Originally, as an undergraduate scientist, I had not previously considered the Fast Stream as a potential employer as I knew that I wanted to do a PhD and proceed into a research career. However, as I had now experienced both academic work and the positive environment and mission of the Civil Service, I had become much more open to the possibility of the Fast Stream.

I considered the Fast Stream for a while alongside some other options and I eventually decided to apply for both the “Science and Engineering” and “Generalist” schemes in late 2016. Both schemes attracted me because of the interesting and varied work which was available alongside early responsibility and an ability to really make a difference for the public. I can’t say I was keen on the relocation policy with multiple short postings potentially leading to several location changes throughout the scheme, however, I considered that the benefits would hopefully outweigh the inconvenience.

The application procedure was basically identical for existing Civil Servants and external applicants except that internal candidates do not require a degree to apply. There were many stages and tests throughout the process and it did take some time (approaching 8 months by the time I received the outcome). However, the initial tests were not onerous and, apart from considerable nerves, all the testing was friendly and incredibly balanced and fair. My trip to Newcastle for the assessment centre was relatively painless (apart from the nerves previously mentioned). All the other candidates were friendly and open; the tests were well organised and clear; and the centre is very new and completely kitted out with everything that could possibly be required. The tests were difficult especially in relation to time management. However, this is the same for everyone so it is not a reason to worry unduly. After a little while, I was somewhat surprised to find out that I had passed the assessment centre and I secured a place in the generalist scheme.

I have now completed my induction which was an excellent opportunity to be inspired by senior civil service colleagues, meet multitudes of other new Fast Streamers and consider some of my own characteristics and skills. The event was very enjoyable even if it was exhausting.

I have now just started my first day at the Department for International Trade in the stakeholder engagement group. I did not think this would be where I would end up during my undergraduate degree, but I think that by grasping open opportunities and being flexible in my outlook, I have ended up on a wonderful scheme with interesting work and an excellent opportunity to make a difference.

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