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UCL Geographer to Fast Streamer

Gemma’s experience of Civil Service training

UCL Geographer to Fast Streamer

In a blog post for the UCL Geography Blog, Gemma Kane describes how studying geography at UCL has helped her on the UK Civil Service Generalist Fast Stream training course since she graduated in 2016.

In particular, the variety of modules she was able to study and the emphasis on written and analytical skills closely fit the requirements of the training, especially getting to grips with a range of issues pretty quickly.

While the variety of geography may not obviously lend itself to particular career paths, Gemma believes that this actually gives geographers an advantage, with their breadth of skills and ability to fit their experience to various job situations. Her advice to fellow geographers is to use this to their advantage, since it is something that employers really value!

The Fast Stream gives Gemma the opportunity to see different parts of the public sector on a series of 4 six-month and 2 year-long postings. Her first was in the Home Office’s International Strategy and Engagement Team, where she worked on issues such as counter-terrorism, serious organised crime, and migration. This happened to involve coordinating UK attendance at multilateral events, so she got to Los Angeles and Rome to see how international relationships are built.

Then Gemma worked in the Ministry of Justice, on changes to the departmental operating model, acquiring some key project management and finance skills. Currently, she has been seconded to the NHS at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, working on digital strategy. Here, at one of the UK’s largest Biomedical Campuses, she is seeing how public organisations away from the centre interact with it.

So Gemma says she is using both the content and skills she learnt in her geography degree. Particular modules, such as ‘Migration and Transnationalism’, really aided her understanding of the issues dealt with at the Home Office. The written communication skills she acquired have also been crucial in preparing briefings for senior colleagues and Ministers. The scheme is mentally very challenging and she always feels she is being stretched, but this is rewarding when it pays off!

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Gemma Kane


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