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The benefits of being an apprentice in the Civil Service

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Fast Track Apprenticeships

Head shot of Kelly DunleaMy route into the Civil Service was not your typical one. I started at 21 as an apprentice, and now two years later I am PA to Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communications in the Cabinet Office.

I think university is a great route for some people, but I enjoy a more hands on approach, so an apprenticeship scheme seemed perfect for me. I heard about the Hawk Training scheme through my friends, and it seemed a great opportunity to learn whilst on the job. Also, receiving a wage whilst studying meant I didn't have the burden of university tuition fees and no guaranteed job at the end of it.

After my initial interview with them, I was offered an 18 month placement at the Cabinet Office, and that’s where it all took off.

At the start I was worried that being an apprentice would mean people would treat me like a temporary member of staff. But I immediately felt like I was part of a team and was making a difference.

My day to day role involves supporting the Cabinet Office Communications team as well as assisting Alex. This includes organising itineraries, cross government meetings and managing PA activity. There aren't many jobs where you see projects in the media and can say that you've been behind the scenes.

The fact I enjoyed work so much motivated me to study hard for my apprenticeship exams, which I passed and finished my apprenticeship six months ahead of schedule.

I knew this is where I wanted to work, so I reapplied for my job through a fair and open competition selection process, and earlier this year became a permanent member of the Civil Service.

It was one of my proudest moments, and biggest challenges. Adjusting from being an apprentice to taking on the responsibility of working with such senior officials was quite intimidating at first. But it soon passes and my contributions are as valuable as anybody else's regardless of my career route.

I feel I have proved the assumption you need a degree to have a career in the Civil Service wrong. Even though I'm no longer an apprentice, I still look out for opportunities to promote the scheme so others can get the same opportunities as me.

Two years ago I didn't really know what the Civil Service did. Now I'm a part of it, I realise how much work and effort goes in behind the scenes. It’s a fantastic place to work and I'm so glad I've ended up here!

Visit the Fast Track homepage on GOV.UK for more information on who can apply, how to apply and the different apprenticeship schemes on offer. 

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