I joined the Fast Stream Digital and Technology scheme in 2016. Prior to that I was working at an NHS hospital laboratory while simultaneously studying for a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics with the Open University.
I enjoyed both working for the benefit of public and the technical aspects of my job within the laboratory at the NHS. I was also fascinated by the subjects I chose to study. Unfortunately though, I couldn’t envision a career in which I could have exposure to all three.
So imagine my delight when I stumbled across an advert for the Fast Stream’s Digital and Technology scheme: technology centred public sector policy work at the heart of government. Needless to state I applied immediately and nervously hoped for the best.
Thankfully they let me in.
My first role was a Data Scientist at High Speed Two. Initially I felt overwhelmed by my job title. I was no statistical specialist, had little business awareness of the large and complex operation that is High Speed Two and I didn’t have programming skills: all of these were core elements of the job. I wasn’t sure how I could produce anything of benefit to the organisation in just 6 months, the learning curve felt so steep.
Thankfully though, I had a very supportive team. No question was too silly and I was allowed plenty of time and space to learn to use data tools.
By the end of my six months at High Speed Two, I was truly amazed by how much I’d learned and the variety of skills I gained experience in. I was enjoying my work and was actively teaching others how to use the data tools I knew nothing about a few months prior.
My next role was at HMCR’s Chief Technology Office as a Solutions Architect. There I led on procuring and implementing an online Content Management System. Again, I didn’t have much knowledge of the role but my experience at High Speed Two taught me to approach the role with confidence in my ability to learn and produce work of value within a short space of time.
I took a hands-on approach and did most of the procurement and web configuration myself. I relied heavily on the web to teach myself how to this. For me this was the best way to learn even though the process took long time. There are few things more satisfying than running a script successfully and seeing a function work!
One of the best things about being on the Digital and Technology Fast Stream is that there are lots of opportunities to attend industry events to learn about new technology and meet lots of professionals from the public and private sector. What struck me was how open the industry is when it comes to sharing knowledge and increasing capability.
Initially my roles seemed to be very heavily computed centred, I was envisioning myself tied to my desk for weeks at end. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I was encouraged to attend a variety of events up and down the country including hackathons and workshops.
My top tip to prospective Fast Streamers on the Digital and Technology scheme is to get stuck-in and learn as much as you can about tools and technology by whatever means you find comfortable. But balance this by taking any opportunity to keep up-to-date with what’s going on at industry events.