The Civil Service is always on the lookout for bright, talented and enthusiastic graduates from all backgrounds and walks of life to train as future leaders in its Fast Stream graduate programme.
Since applications for the 2019 Fast Stream opened on the 20th of September, we thought it would be an ideal time to catch up with some Edinburgh University alumni who’ve already joined the programme and learn about their journey into government. Christine Gilmore (Masters in Arab World Studies 2011; Phd 2016) talks to us today.
Q1. What made you want to work in the Civil Service?
When I was studying for my Masters and PhD, with my heart set on living and working in the Middle East, the last place I might have expected to end up was the Scottish Government! But in fact, what attracted me to a career in government in the first place is the sheer range of jobs and career routes available across the UK and even globally. While I still intend to seek out an international-facing role in the future, having a young child made me want something closer to home in the short-term. The wonderful thing is that the Civil Service can accommodate both my short-term requirements and long-term goals. So while I’m focussing on domestic policy now and learning lots of important transferable skills, I know that when the time comes I’ll be able to put my language skills and academic training to good use.
Q2. Why did you apply to the Fast Stream?
To be honest I had never really contemplated joining a graduate scheme as I assumed I was ‘too old’. However, after finishing my PhD and having a baby I was feeling hesitant about pursuing a career in academic research as it would have involved so much moving around and fieldwork abroad. While I was thinking through my options I happened to go along to a Fast Stream careers event at the university and was surprised that the person presenting that day had such a similar background to me, right down to her PhD discipline and a daughter of a similar age. I’ve learned that the Civil Service isn’t interested in a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment. Rather, it embraces diversity and welcomes applicants from all walks and stages of life! Meeting someone like myself gave me the confidence to apply and I’ve been really impressed since by how accommodating the Fast Stream team are to the needs of different people on the scheme.
Q.3. What jobs have you done since joining the Fast Stream?
I’ve been lucky to have experienced so many aspects of government in such a short space of time. So far, I’ve tackled the mysteries of strategic finance through implementing and evaluating Scotland’s Fiscal Framework, the agreement that underpins our annual budget and tax-raising powers and helped deliver the First Minister’s Programme for Government, the equivalent of the Queen’s Speech in Scotland, which sets out the government’s main legislative and policy priorities for the year. Most recently, I’ve been working on the safe and secure transition of Scotland’s new Social Security powers through delivery of the new Best Start Grant for expectant mothers. One thing can be guaranteed when you join the Fast Stream – you’ll never do the same thing twice!
Q4. What are the main challenges of the job?
With such regular posting rotations, one of the main challenges is being adaptable and willing and able to pick up new skills and knowledge very quickly so you can start delivering to a high standard from the outset, often in a new and unfamiliar location. While I’ve been based in Edinburgh throughout my time on the Fast Stream as I have a relocation restriction (something the Civil Service honours if you have caring responsibilities or ongoing medical treatment), many Fast Streamers move around the country for their roles. Happily, there’s lots of support available and you’ll meet many other people on the scheme wherever you going, giving you an instant social circle.
You can find more information on the specific schemes and details of how to apply on the Fast Stream website. Applications close on 25th of October.