I recently completed a 4-week work experience at the Government Digital Service (GDS) within the Operations department. Here’s my story.
The very first thing that struck me about GDS was how open, transparent and informal it was — bunting hangs from the ceilings on each of the three floors, there is no strict dress code, and there are lots of open spaces for meetings. It is easy to walk around and see what all the teams are working on as every wall space has notes detailing actions and results.
I am a graduate, with a bit of corporate work experience under my belt, but I’d never worked anywhere like this before. And still, I was in a government department. Really? I thought to myself; but the place is so vibrant, creative and inclusive.
What I did
While on the job, I produced a detailed report using statistics on senior digital roles across government, attended Agile workshops where I learnt the three elements of agile delivery; time, cost, and scope.
During this time, I also shadowed a Delivery Manager where I saw, in practice, how a team works in an agile way. My favourite part of this experience was what’s known as a ‘retro’, or retrospective, in agile delivery. In this meeting, the team reviewed what was going well and what wasn’t, as well as showing appreciation for results achieved. What an ingenious way of maximising output and facilitating open communication within teams, I thought.
Work in digital government
I felt a sense of satisfaction and purpose in knowing that everyone who uses the platforms and services that government provides benefits from the transformative work that GDS plays a part in. I was surprised by the sheer scale of projects that exist in digital government. Let’s think about it. Whether you want to register a birth, replace your passport urgently, check your state pension, or pay your tax you need to be able to do that as easily as possible.
Needless to say, Government is huge. There are more than 25 Ministerial Departments, from GDS, which is a part of the Cabinet office — where I was — to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. I was excited to see that most of the departments offer work experience, apprenticeships, and graduate schemes such as the Digital and Technology Fast Stream for graduates and Fast Track for non-graduates.
For me, working at GDS has been a steep learning curve and a great reference to have on my resume. Moreover, I love the fact that I spent time working at the heart of the technological revolution in government.