Every summer we welcome a number of students from diverse backgrounds into our Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) and this year, unlike for the last two years, we were able to meet them in person in our offices.
This year we also extended the invitation to include applicants from the Autism Exchange Internship Programme (AEIP) increasing the diversity of our interns and offering us a greater chance to interact with a broader range of service users.
This the fourth of a series of six blog posts written by some of the DSIP/AEIP interns. In this blog, Farhana Badshah writes about his experience, as someone with a law degree, working at GDS.
Using my law degree at Government Digital Service
As someone with a legal background; having completed a law degree and thus expecting to sit with the Government’s Legal Department, I was unexpectedly placed with GDS. Though in hindsight this placement has been the most serendipitous opportunity that has occurred in my career journey as of yet: from experiencing a completely new working culture to the actual work itself.
There are many gems I have gathered during my placement with GDS that I hope will add value to whatever career I go forth with. I must also mention my appreciation for the team providing me with responsibility - a chance for me to add value to GDS and consequently GOV.UK users.
It’s probably best for me to begin by debunking a common myth about tech careers; you do not need to be a coding geek to join a tech organisation!
There is a role for all of us here; AI tools cannot just be launched without someone managing the product or drafting a strategy to ensure the tool aligns with its very purpose or even researching the demand for its launch. The increasing digitalisation of the world means the opportunities for growth and expansion in the tech space are vast, much of which are currently unknown and waiting to be explored.
Thus, working at GDS means you will be at the centre of this innovative space and I guess will never find yourself bored with your job (I don’t mind being quoted, I’m that certain!).
At GDS there are also many opportunities for professional development that I have been able to attend alongside other employees, for example a session introducing us to technical architecture, something that I didn't know existed prior to my attendance. But also getting a glimpse into other government departments/organisations such as the Ministry of Justice and their work on creating tech for prisoners.
As someone who is very keen on having a healthy work/life balance and ensuring that the culture of my workplace is tolerant, and perhaps even celebratory of differences, GDS has surpassed all my expectations.GDS also maintains inclusivity from recruitment to retention. There is a particular emphasis on the benefits and blessings of neurodiverse civil servants; accessible faith spaces and also a casual uniform policy.
In terms of retention, whilst on my Summer Diversity Internship Programme I had the opportunity to attend a diverse women in tech event’ which aimed to celebrate the value of women of colour in the tech space, but also provided practical steps to excel in your tech career such as being partnered with a mentor who assists you in receiving a promotion.
I don’t really have to tell you why you should choose the Civil Service; who doesn't want to spend the majority of their working life helping the public, young and old, rich and poor. So whilst I advise everyone to apply for departments/schemes that they have a prior interest in, It is important not to completely shut down options based on stereotypes. Especially not any opportunities in the tech space, it will have a relevance to any future interviews and whatever you decide to specialise in!
To find out more about the SDIP and the application process for next year's in-take visit the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme website.