Diversity Intern – Civil Service


What were your main duties and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

This internship was primarily about the interns learning and understanding more about the fast stream and the role of a civil servant in government. Before I arrived I was allocated a fast streamer to shadow in the DEFRA department. I was meant to shadow her duties on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then take part in some other activities on Monday and Friday. However, as the project she was working on was too sensitive and confidential (about the EU referendum) I was not able to, but she arranged for me to talk to various civil servants and other professionals instead. I met senior civil servants, professionals in Behaviour Insight Team and fast streamers in the Department of Health, Education, Work&Pensions, HM Treasury and DEFRA. My role was mainly just to network.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

I don’t mean to sound too generic, but I really did overcome my alienation and fear of networking. Every interns experience was different, as it depended on the agenda that your fast streamer had set for you. My fast streamer set up meetings for me to speak to loads of people, so I was forced to reach out of my comfort zone and be bold to ask lots of different questions.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I think due to the nature of the internship, the benefits of the intern were limited as it was an internship where interns gain an insight into the world of a civil servant. However, during the week a lot of emphasis was placed on the civil service wanting to achieve diversity within its organisation. It was stated that even though their current workforce comprises of a minority ethnic background of 10.1% which is nearly reflective of general population (around 11%), there isn’t diversity among the senior roles. The civil service accentuated that the promotion of diversity it not just limited to moral reasons, but strategically they need to ensure they reflect the society to know how best to serve them. So, I brought insight into an ethnic minority’s viewpoint of the civil service and a chance for them to promote careers available to me that I may not have considered.

Did you encounter any problems during the course of your internship and if so, how did you overcome them?

Not so much a challenge but an adjustment. I decided not to stay in Westminster (or nearby), but to commute from home as I thought it would be manageable. However, I found the travel draining, so I had to be very vigilant and organise my time well to ensure I was on time to all the events.