Two years ago I was in my final year of a mathematics degree at Newcastle University with still no idea of what I wanted to do afterwards. This was a familiar situation among many of my friends. As maths students we are often pushed towards careers in accountancy, finance or teaching. However none of these careers appealed to me and I was struggling to find different career path – one that would make better use of my degree. Discovering the statistics Faststream – it looked to be a perfect fit. I would have the opportunity to work on high profile statistics that would have a real impact on policy. After going through the recruitment process I started in September 2016 as an assistant statistician at the department for work and pensions.
When I first started I was lucky enough to work on a cutting-edge data science project. My role was to build an interactive data visualisation with the aim to make our statistics easier to understand and to appeal to a wider audience. I got the opportunity to learn about website design as well as technical programming languages that I had never even heard of before! Although overwhelming at the start, I built up my knowledge and found a real passion for data visualisation. I was extremely proud of what I had created at the end of project – the complete version has now been published and can be found here if you would like to take a look! Government departments are not usually considered to be at the forefront of digital techniques but projects such as this one show the variety of different work available as a statistician and that it is possible to pioneer modern ways of working in the public sector.
After completing this project I have been involved in a large variety of different work. This has given me the opportunity to develop both a range of statistical skills and core competencies. For example I have run complex adjustments e.g. using survival analysis techniques and learnt SAS programming as well as developing my communication and negotiation skills while working with a wide range of stakeholders. Although I was a new starter and recent university graduate I was given real responsibility from day 1 to take the lead on projects and add value to the department.
The statistics Faststream is an ideal way to start a career in statistics. There is a whole range of jobs within government statistics – e.g. very technical analysis jobs as well as roles that focus on the dissemination of statistics working alongside non-analysts and policy officials. This makes it an ideal scheme for maths students like myself who want to carry on what they have learnt in their degree but also makes it suited for anyone who enjoyed the statistics part of a different type of degree e.g. science/geography. I have developed so much over my first year and I am looking forward to what I can achieve in my next few while on the scheme!