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Busting the civil servant stereotype

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Engagement
A man in bowler hat and 3-piece suit on the Tube using a smart phone.
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution Chris Brown

I have officially been a civil servant at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for 40 days. I have been working as part of the digital communications team with a particular focus on outreach and engagement.

As part of this role I am embedded in the ever busy media relations office helping to integrate digital into BIS communications.

As this work anniversary passes it gives me some pause for reflection on my experiences so far. I was unsure exactly of what to expect when entering government, as the work of civil servants isn’t often headline news except when something goes wrong. Our work is the constant machinery working in the background to help maximise the country’s potential. We don’t often get praise for all the benefits we bring but we certainly feel the brunt of anything that does not go so well. Some would lead you to believe that the public sector was an unwieldy behemoth staffed by zombies just muddling through. In my experience nothing could be further from the truth. My first 40 days has been dynamic, fast-paced, detail-orientated, collaborative and interesting. I would use these same words to describe the colleagues I work with and my department’s outlook.

Since day one I have been given real responsibility assisting with a variety of tasks including planning, monitoring, content creation and engaging directly with users. I have had the chance to get involved on topics as diverse as National Apprenticeship Week, the budget, investment in autonomous vehicles, manufacturing, housebuilding, shared parental leave and Women on Boards to name but a few. Despite all of this I have only scratched the surface of all the work BIS does. My personal highlight so far has been the opportunity to be part of National Apprenticeship Week and helping to create the lead infographic for the BIS side of the campaign.

In the last 40 days not only have I become a member of the Civil Service and BIS but also the Government Communication Service (GCS) as well. This is an important network which enables me to learn from communicators across government and apply best practice in new ways for my department and continue to develop as a professional. One such example is a GCS talk from the Electoral Commission which used behavioural science in its campaign to get people to register to vote for the September 2014 Independence Referendum. There are many other interesting opportunities to learn in the next few months.

In addition to best practice seminars there are also many training opportunities. These are numerous and varied and my personal highlight is a series of seminars held by Google at an introductory event for those beginning their careers in the GCS. Google spoke about how technology is changing communications, how they work with Government and the insight they can offer for campaigns.

In conclusion, I want to thank both the digital and media relations teams for being so welcoming and making my transition into the Civil Service a smooth one. I am really looking forward to my career here as a communicator. The opportunity to work on issues that truly make a difference to people’s lives is not something that everyone receives and I am very grateful to be part of a passionate team that is always seeking new ways to improve.

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