If you’ve been thinking about joining the Fast Stream, you’ve probably heard people talk about how prestigious it is. It was words like ‘prestige’ that intimidated me and put me off joining it in the first place. Having done a degree in German and Spanish literature, followed by a pretty low-key Master’s in Translation, I was worried I’d be eternally out of my depth, forever being shown up by people more competent and extroverted and knowledgeable than I was. And since joining, I have felt like that now and again, but not nearly to the same degree I had expected. It’s natural to feel ‘Impostor Syndrome’ - but basically, if you make if through the laborious assessment process, you’re suitable for the scheme, regardless of whether or not you feel that way.
There are a few reasons I thought I wouldn’t fit into the Fast Stream, chief among them the fact that I have an innate hatred of speaking in front of large groups of people. This used to make participating in work meetings a challenge. But over the last year it’s become less and less of a challenge, and - more importantly - I’ve come to realise that if I do come out of a meeting feeling like I’ve underperformed, it’s not the end of the world. Being on the Fast Stream has taught me to value what I’m good at and tolerate what I’m not.
It’s also taught me how valueless it is to compare yourself to others. When I turned up to the assessment centre, out of breath and covered in crumbs and only just on time, I was met with a sea of calm and collected people exchanging small talk seemingly with complete ease. They all seemed so much more normal and ‘with it’ than I felt that I seriously considered just leaving the centre and sacking off for the day. But I didn’t and now, against all my expectations, I’m about to start on my second year on the Fast Stream.
So basically, if you feel like it’s for you but you don’t think you’ll fit in, you might as well give it a try. Even if you don’t feel like it’s for you, if you’ve got some spare time you might as well try out the assessment process. Then, if you get on, just be yourself and don’t try to be anything you’re not - it’ll just burn you out.