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Life on the Fast Track: Top tips for entering the workplace from school

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I am on the Business scheme of the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme. I am currently an HR Support Officer in the Learning and Development Team for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. I manage the in-house events, help organise DECC School Seminars and manage the inbox for the Learning and Development Team. It is a fast-paced, challenging role but I am thoroughly enjoying it!

When I finish my Fast Track Apprenticeship, I would like to apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream or stay in my current role in DECC. One of the main aspects I struggled with transitioning from a school environment into a work environment. Below I have listed some top tips for helping you make this transition as easily as possible.

Top tips for transitioning into the Civil Service from a school environment

Be organised. Look at a map a few days before of where you will be based. Try and figure out multiple routes to get there, in case for any reason your normal route is unavailable (e.g tube strikes). If possible, try and do the route to your workplace so you have a clear idea of how to get there. This will help ease the stress of your first day on the job. Read up on your Department. What are their aims? Who does what? How will your role fit into this? It only takes half an hour but then you’ll have a basic idea of what your Department’s role is in the wider Civil Service.

Research the local area. Need to know where the nearest coffee shop is for your daily caffeine fix? Need to know where the bank is? Need to know where you can grab a quick bite to eat? A quick search online or a looking at a map can save you a lot of hassle and make the transition easier as you already know where everything is?

Talk to people. On your first day, you probably won’t know anyone. Chances are your manager or someone else in your team will take you around and introduce you but make sure to start developing professional relationships early on. Say hello to everyone in your office when you first come in. Ask people about their careers in the Civil Service. You won’t get on with everyone and that’s fine, but you still need to show them the same level of respect.

Plan your time: One of the most difficult aspects for me coming from a school environment was the fact that I didn’t have as much time as I used to. I get home and, (as I commute in everyday) I needed to suddenly fit many aspects of my life around a 9-5 working week. Find out if any shops/shopping centres in your area (if you don’t know already) have late night opening hours. Find out when you and your friends are free and spend an hour or two with them. Not only will this help you de-stress but it will give you a sense of a work/life balance.

Make the most of every opportunity. One of the aspects of being a civil servant that I am enjoying the most is the wide range of opportunities that are available. Maybe it’s helping your team with the Christmas party? Maybe it’s seeing if there is a Mentoring Scheme that you can sign up to? Maybe it’s helping promote and market the Fast Track? Opportunities within the Civil Service come up in a range of different ways. Take advantage of as many of them as you can. You never know what you might get out of it, and it also helps you understand a different aspect of your Department, and the wider Civil Service as a whole.

Learn as much as you can and always try your best. You won’t always get things right, you are learning as you go along. Admit when you have made mistakes and learn from them so you can do better next time. Talk to your manager if you are struggling. Think about what you would like to do when you have finished the Apprenticeship. See if you can take small steps to getting there e.g. shadowing someone in a different area of your Department. Have fun, make friends and work hard.

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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