March 19, 2021, by abrierley

Government Communication Service Internships Programme

By Sana Sattar Politics & International Relations Undergraduate

The GCS programme gives university students, specifically from BAME backgrounds, the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in Civil Service communications, ranging from press teams, digital and internal communications. The placement lasts for a minimum of 3 weeks and you can be allocated to any team across government to work on various projects, there’s such a variety really and everyone’s experience differs.

Sana at Lancaster house for the Ministry of Justice

The application process is actually pretty straightforward. When I wanted to apply, I had to write 3 examples covering why I’d make a good intern, drawing on examples from any experience I already had. But you definitely don’t need any experience in communications to apply. The way Civil Service hiring works is down to something called Success Profiles / Behaviours; they’ll ask you to write about where you’ve shown ‘attention to detail’ or can ‘deliver at pace’ for example, and they give a detailed description of what they mean by those terms as well. I just made sure my examples matched whatever they were asking for – think I used organising a society event as an example!

The interview was over the phone as well which made it so much easier. I found it helpful to write down examples for different behaviours/skills. For example, where have I shown that I have good people skills or shown my creativity or enthusiasm for helping people? Also jot down some notes on the basic interview questions and practice saying them to yourself – why this internship? Why would you make a good candidate? I always try to come up with 3 things. If there’s a specific government department you’d like to work in, then it’s worth mentioning it in your interview too. I always find interviews easiest by preparing for them well and also convincing myself that I’m just having a casual chat with another human – nothing to be scared of!

I was allocated to the internal communications team at the Ministry of Justice. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know what internal communications was before joining and it took me a few weeks to get my head around it. But what I loved the most was that I had a really supportive and welcoming team who didn’t mind me making mistakes and were keen to help me learn.

One thing I also learnt was the importance of communicating well with my line manager to help me achieve my goals. I love to write and wanted any opportunity to do more of it, so my line manager scoped out more blog writing opportunities for me. I ended up completing the internship and staying on with a permanent role, and by the time I decided to leave, I had built up a nice portfolio of work and confidence in writing, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve.

I also loved working with the internal diversity networks, I became the communications coordinator for the Muslim network and we had all sorts of fun writing blogs for the staff intranet and organising events.

The highlight of the whole internship had to be my trip to Lancaster House where they filmed the Crown!! We had the space to ourselves for our staff awards ceremony which I helped to organise.

My biggest challenge was definitely getting used to working full-time and staying focused on my goals. I wanted to make sure I was learning and developing throughout the internship. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t have enough to do, which in of itself was a challenge, but I’d say never be afraid to ask for more or to use that time in trying to understand the organisation or even meeting new people! If you’re interested in what someone does in policy, or another area of the organisation then just reach out to them to have a chat.

Some hints and tips would be to show enthusiasm in your interview, and show that you’ve done a little bit of research about GCS, find something you like on their website and mention it in the interview. Also, just be confident in yourself, you don’t have to be the loudest person, you just need to show interest and that you’re keen to learn!

Posted in General Placement Blogs