We hosted professionals working in local and national government roles to offer students an insight into their careers, tips and advice. There are a huge variety of roles in this sector and careers can offer variety, challenges and the chance to see the difference your work makes on society.
Daniel Hart works at the Cabinet Office in the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat. Prior to this he worked on the commercial management of major projects in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. For his first job on the Fast Stream, he worked on Horizon Scanning in the Department for Work and Pensions.
Tom Mottershead is a graduate on the Civil Service fast-stream. He has held posts in Teachers policy at the Department for Education, and as a commercial analyst in Cabinet Office. Tom studied PPE at Manchester and then Political Theory at Kings College. He now works as Foreign Policy Advisor at Cabinet Office.
Emma Louisy is an Adviser for Leadership and Localism at Local Government Association. Half of her role is to develop political leadership in local authorities and half is to develop managerial leadership in local authorities across the country. Prior to her post at the LGA she was a Transformation Programme Manager at the London Borough of Islington, and before that a Policy and Equality Officer. She has also worked in youth services at Bedford Borough Council.
Richard Knox joined the Treasury in 2005 to work on the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. He has done a range of jobs in HMT, and is currently Deputy Director responsible for securities and markets. His work includes negotiating for the UK on EU and international reform of wholesale financial markets following the financial crisis.
Here’s their advice on the top skills you should be looking to demonstrate for careers in local and national government:-
- The ability to think critically and analyse information. So think about how you do this already at university, what is the process you go through? Be prepared to demonstrate this skill on an application form and in an interview.
- Being able to work collaboratively and use your interpersonal skills to build strong working relationships with colleagues. You may find yourself working across departments and having to collaborate with colleagues in a variety of contexts.
- The ability to process large volumes of information quickly, which involves analysing and filtering information to pick out what’s most important. Why not practise this by reading and analysing newspaper articles at speed and think about your technique.
- Following on from processing information, you should also be able to communicate information clearly and concisely both orally and written.
- Know your strengths and the professional skills that you need, and want, to develop. Think about how you can start working on developing skills you are less confident in now, and use opportunities at university and outside to practise them.
- If you want to work in local & national government you should demonstrate a strong passion for public service, so think about how you can get involved in public service now to find out a) if you enjoy it, and b) to show to potential employers that you are motivated by it.
- You will need to be able to communicate persuasively. Depending on the department or role that you end-up in you may need to be able to persuade and convince others on a number of issues.
- Innovation skills and the ability to rise to the challenge are key.
Tips & Advice
- Be prepared for a lot of responsibility from day 1. If this appeals to you then you might want to consider a career in the Civil Service or local government.
- Don’t give-up at the first hurdle. If you don’t get through the Fast Stream, NGDP or HMT selection process first time round, don’t be put off. Try again!
- There isn’t a specific list of work experience you need to have, but you do need to demonstrate experience to evidence the skills that you have! Look at the skills listed above, and think about how you can develop them at university, in your co-curricular activities, part-time work, internship, volunteering work etc.
- If you want to work in local government, think about the area in which you would most like to work or are most interested in as councils, and the work they focus on, varies across the country.