Trust your lecturers - because they really know what they're talking about
Alumni spotlight | Grace Balchin, BA (Hons) International Relations, Class of 2021
Grace Balchin – Civil Service Graduate Scheme.
Tell us about your current role and what it involves
My role officially is a Generalist Fast Streamer with the Cabinet Office, which means I have a three-year long placement within the Civil Service.
My first placement is with the Ministry of Justice. I am working as the London Regional Support Unit Delivery Manager for MoJ, specifically working in HM Courts & Tribunals Service. As a manager, I am line managing other people within the department, all of whom are older than me!
How did you find this job?
I started applying for this job at the beginning of my second year of university. The Civil Service has an internship program for second and third year university students called SDIP, which runs every summer for 3 months. It’s a long process of applications, but completing the internship grants you a “Fast Pass” onto the Fast Stream, meaning you skip through the first few phases of applications for the Fast Stream itself.
Throughout my third year of uni I was going through the applications for the Fast Stream, which is a long process to say the least. There are online tests (work style and situational judgement), work based scenarios with case studies, a video interview, and the notorious FSAC (Fast Stream Assessment Centre). FSAC is a half day assessment centre, consisting of a leadership exercise, a group exercise, and a written exercise. Whilst the process was intimidating every stage was really enjoyable and amazing practice for future interviews and assessments. My application for SDIP in November 2019 eventually led to me getting a place as a Fast Streamer in March 2021!
If you want to read into it more, there is a lot of information on the Fast Stream website.
What do you enjoy about your job the most?
The main thing for me is the wide variety of tasks I work on. Being able to speak to so many people in different departments within the Civil Service is such an incredible opportunity. Another amazing part are the learning opportunities. The Civil Service has a standard of lifelong learning courses you can take throughout your career, with online courses, extra seminars and workshops etc. I have been given so many opportunities to go on site visits, meet people from other teams, and even be part of Civil Service societies and clubs.
What skills that you learnt at university have you been able to apply in your role?
The assignments throughout uni, whilst sometimes annoying, really did prepare me for my career in the government. Daily I use the skills I learnt from report writing, executive summaries, giving presentations, and even reflective writing. I never thought that reflective writing would be relevant in the world of work, but being a Fast Streamer means regular formal self-reflections. All I can say is ’trust your lecturers’ because they really know what they’re talking about.
Another skill is flexi-working. Due to having a year of uni online it means that my technological skills increased without me even knowing, which is vital now that working from home some of the week is the norm. Being at uni taught me how to work well independently. It taught me to balance my workload and plan my time.
No day is the same, and while I used to only like working independently, university taught me the skills to work well as part of a team, which is really important in government.
What will your story be?
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