40, engaged and a cat called Squidget

Hi, my name is Amanda, I’m 40 years old, engaged, I have a cat called Squidget, and I’m on the Fast Stream - the Finance Fast Stream to be precise. So why tell you my age and the name of my cat? What’s that got to do with the Fast Stream and how I got on to it? Well, it doesn’t. And it does. All at the same time…

What point am I making? We’re all individuals. Just that. And why am I making that point? Well that is the important question…

My particular background is not Oxford or Cambridge, or even one of the Russell group universities, though well done to you if yours is. I didn’t do a degree in politics or economics or business but again if you did then great. Or great if you did art and you’re reading this, or chemistry, or geology. It doesn’t matter what you did, it matters what you are going to do. That’s the thing about Fast Stream – it’s what you make of it. How far do you want it to take you? Where do you want to go?

So, what’s my background and why did I apply? Well, I am what the Fast Stream calls an ‘in-service’ candidate. That means I worked for the civil service prior to applying. There is no difference in the application process, or the assessments, it just means that you don’t necessarily need a degree. Although, this does depend on which Fast Stream you apply for.

I originally worked in the private sector mostly in retail and hospitality but I joined HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service) as an Admin Officer in 2013. I had been there for two years when I randomly read a Civil Service News email saying that the Fast Stream applications were open.

I would love to say that I applied because I had heard of the Fast Stream and thought I had the right qualities to offer but I’d be lying. I applied because I wanted a change and could not see a development opportunity arising in my short term future within my current role. I applied because I wanted to get some application experience before starting to apply for other jobs. And I applied not knowing anything about the Fast Stream, either what it was, or what it meant.

So, as you might guess, my expectations were low and as I got through each stage I was genuinely surprised. I started to read articles, blogs, the actual job descriptions, and by the time I went to my assessment day I really, really wanted it.

I remember turning up in my only (and cheap) suit, looking around, and feeling completely out of my depth. I started to question what on earth I was doing in this room, surrounded by young graduates fresh out of university with degrees and confidence. Everyone was really nice but I felt very different.

When I found out I was successful I was over the moon, but again self-doubt crept in; was I really good enough? There was only one way to find out…

I have just completed my first placement and I know (not think), I did a great job. My experience in the civil service and in previous roles made up for my lack of knowledge in other areas, and I learnt skills like report writing and decision making. The biggest thing I gained though, was confidence, and trust in my own ability. I no longer question my differences to others, I embrace it.

So, I am Amanda, I’m an individual, and I am a Fast Streamer.