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September 21, 2021, by Benedict Watson

My Internship With the Civil Service (Part 1)

By, Benedict Watson – Student

Having passed through strenuous online tests and a telephone interview, I was delighted to find out in March that I had been accepted onto the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP)! The Civil Service has been an area of interest for me for a while now, so I was very excited to be part of a programme that would give me a fantastic insight into what it would be like to work at the Civil Service, while also hopefully increasing my chances of being accepted onto the Fast Stream (the Civil Service graduate programme). Part one of this blog will detail my experiences in the lead-up to the internship and in my first week as an intern.

Being assigned to a department

Having submitted location and department preferences in my application, I discovered in May that I had been assigned to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This was a slight shock to me as I never thought studying economics would lead to a role in the agriculture sector!

However, I was glad to find that my role was actually as an economist, working in a team of four who analyse and update an economic model that predicts the future of the agriculture sector over the next ten years. My manager wrote me a very friendly welcoming email, and we had a phone call where he explained in more detail what I should expect in the role. I was surprised by how relaxed and informal he was, and how flexible he was on start dates and working hours. It wasn’t what the stereotype of managers had led me to expect!

Welcome video call

A few weeks before starting, I had an hour-long video call with the team I would be working with. They were all quite young, and they seemed like a group of friends, which helped me to relax and have a laugh alongside them! They also gave me a much better idea of what the internship would entail, which made me feel more confident that I’d be able to perform well on the internship.

First week

My first day was mostly admin and induction work, but on my second day, I was able to go to Bristol to meet the team in person and see the office! This was a really enjoyable day which allowed me to make real-life connections with my colleagues – making the future video calls much less awkward!

As the week progressed, I was given my first project to get my teeth into, which was to analyse the changes in the Sheep meat industry in 2020 and create a presentation based on my findings. It was nice to have something to focus on, as the first couple of days were lots of introductory work.

I’ll be presenting to the team in the next few days, then I’ll be moving onto some work that focuses on coding and the economic model itself.

I’ve really enjoyed my internship so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store in the next 8 weeks! Stay tuned for Part two of this blog post…

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