‘My internship opened so many doors’

If you’re thinking about life after Goldsmiths, then internships are a great to get experience of the working world. Saima Rasool, who graduated last summer, tells us about her journey from university to full-time employment and how it was only through her internship that she secured her new job…

How did I arrive at Goldsmiths?

I came to Goldsmiths in 2015 through clearing after receiving lower-than-expected A-Level results. But I decided to make the most of my uni experience, studying BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics. I graduated with a 2.1.

While in my second year, in December 2017, I’d received an email about a careers talk that IMS (Institute of Management studies) had organised. A couple of civil cervants from HM Treasury (HMT) were coming in to talk about the graduate development programme. I didn’t know what it was, but I thought I’d go just so I’d feel less guilty about not thinking about my future after university! But I was really interested by the work of HMT and decided to apply for the 2018 graduate programme.

 

My final year…

Fast-forward a year and I was suddenly in my final year. That’s when it hit me that I had just a few months left and still had no real idea of what I wanted to do in terms of a career! So I googled the Goldsmiths Careers Service and booked an appointment with an advisor. There, I was made aware of the National Mentoring Consortium Scheme (NMC) that Goldsmiths is a part of. The scheme links you to a mentor who helps with your next steps. The careers advisor also mentioned working for the civil service.

When I got home and researched the civil service, I discovered they had a graduate programme called the ‘Fast Stream’. I was really interested in the work and upon further research discovered they had the Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) for penultimate and final year students.

My journey to the internship…

It was the autumn term of third year and I’d secured a mentor with the NMC scheme. I’d also managed to pass the two online tests for SDIP. The next stage was five additional questions. My mentor helped me with the questions by helping with the structure and proof-reading. I passed the additional questions stage of the application (yes!) and got through to the final telephone interview. By June 2018, I’d discovered I was one of 400 interns chosen from 7,000 applicants to take part in the Summer Diversity Internship Programme - and I was placed at HM Treasury!

 

How did the placement kick off?

I began my 12-week paid placement the following month. There were loads of central events for all of us interns to attend. Highlights included a welcome reception at Westminster Central Hall, a ‘Crisis Management Workshop’ at the Ministry of Defence and a tour of parliament.

 

What did you get up to?

I was definitely thrown in at the deep end! I was placed in the Department for Food and Rural Affairs Policy and Spending team. I got a true sense of what it was like to be a policy advisor at HMT. There was researching and decision-making along with meetings and conference calls. I was given a lot of responsibility, which I loved.

There was also a fun side with a Treasury Conference day (we got to see the Chancellor himself!), sports day and lots of team lunches/picnics. We were also given the opportunity to shadow as much as we wanted, so I got to meet and shadow the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury’s Private Office. Each intern had their own mentor who was on the Fast-Steam to provide support throughout the placement. All this really gave me a true sense of what it’d be like to work for the Civil Service.

 

What was the most rewarding aspect of the placement?

At one point, all interns were placed in teams of around 10 to raise money for a charity of their choice. The top five teams would win a prize. It was really fun as we got to bond through our fundraising efforts - we held a quiz night and charity henna tattoo sessions.

Getting used to having to work full-time was pretty tough, though! It was my first time having to work so many hours and I found that challenging. However, my manager and team offered great support and advice.

And what are you up to now? 

I really enjoyed working on high-profile projects that make the news. I felt like I could influence policy and make real-life changes… which is why I’m so chuffed that I’ve managed to secure a place on the Ofgem Graduate Development Programme as a Graduate Analyst at their Canary Wharf offices. Alongside that, I’ll be completing a course at the Florence School of Regulation in Italy. Therefore, I shall be a civil servant in September when I start.

Working on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Team at HM Treasury opened my mind to working on issues such as a low carbon future and sustainability. I was able to speak to colleagues that worked closely with Ofgem, and this provided an insight into the work of Ofgem and inspired me to apply for the programme. The internship provided a great insight into working for the civil service, especially the work-life balance and how broad it is. All of this I found really attractive and it’s what inspired me to apply to Ofgem. I definitely wouldn’t have done that if it hadn’t of been for my internship, so the experience was invaluable.