Careers service - Panel: Careers in Government & Policy
On Wednesday 16th October we were fortunate to have a panel event with Cathryn Vickers, a lawyer in the Government Legal Department, and Boshra Begum, a National Management Trainee with a London Borough. They visited the University of Bath to present the opportunities available within local and general government. They displayed enthusiasm for the roles, as well as purpose, looking to serve society which is all what the government is about.
Cathryn has been in her role for 12 years. The Government Legal Department work for the government of the day, advising on a vast range of issues; immigration, acquisitions, patents and even Brexit! They help turn government objectives into policy and law. She explained that graduates get opportunities very early on to manage cases. There are around 60 opportunities, recruiting up to two years in advance, so if you are looking to join after graduating, get on it! If you’re interested in the development of law, the interaction of politics and law, motivated for public service and looking for early responsibility, then this would be the job for you. There are great benefits and a generous package including study support and accommodation allowance to become a qualified lawyer. Their online application is typical of a graduate program but the written exercise is particularly important, since law involves strong writing and reading skills.
Boshra graduated with a BA in Politics from Queen Mary’s University and then did a Masters. She is now on the trainee management scheme for the Local London association as a project officer, through NGDP (National Graduate Programme for Local Government). She decided to focus her dissertation on the regeneration of Shoreditch Council, because she wanted to support her degree and fulfil her career ambitions to work in a policy role within government. Boshra explained that there are rotations around different departments or a list of placements that trainees can go on according to their ambitions. The type of work consists of strategy and policy high level work, the purpose of the graduate scheme is to develop future leaders. Boshra is currently working towards the ILM level 7 qualification and there is a dissertation and an improvement project based on your placement. With budgets of local governments being reduced, they are looking to the graduates to contribute to the discussion and think of solutions. Boshra has recently contributed towards operational policy related to medication that has been rolled out in her local government. She also looked at how to retain social workers and attended a meeting with other local councils to discuss the issue. Boshra also highlighted the fact that you get a mentor to help you through your journey of the local government, and invitations to networking events.
After all the panellists had spoken, we had a Q&A. The topics included:
Acing the interview– always stick to the STAR framework, Boshra found that she faced a lot of rejections based on missing this element. Cathryn also added that we shouldn’t go overboard on the situation, we should give just enough to give a taste of the situation.
The competency question ‘Tell me about a time when..’ – many struggle with this questions due to the misconception that the example has to be work related, especially if you don’t have much work experience. It could be an example of doing the Duke of Edinburgh or as simple as an event you organised with a group of friends! The key is to convey the skill through the story which you tell.
Spelling out the skill – we’re told to avoid bombarding our CV’s with the sentences ‘I have good time management’ or ‘I work well in teams’, interviews are no different. It is better to give examples where these are demonstrated so that it’s not just a regurgitation of buzzwords. Avoid these clichés, rather let the story speak for itself.