Roisin E.

Policy Advisor
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Roisin E.
Politics and International Relations
United Kingdom

My employment

Policy Advisor
UK Government
United Kingdom
Government and civil service

More about Roisin

BAME student

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A day in the life of a Policy Advisor in the United Kingdom

I'm a Civil Servant on the Civil Service Fast Stream Programme, which involves spending 6-12 months in various roles and departments across UK Government over 3-4 years.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I'm a Civil Servant on the Civil Service Fast Stream Programme, which involves spending 6-12 months in various roles and departments across UK Government over 3-4 years.

What do you do?

I'm currently working in HMRC, supporting our EU Exit negotiations on customs and trade as a Policy Advisor. I specifically lead on data protection policy across the customs agreement, and support work on the UK's Trusted Trader scheme.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

I studied Politics and International Relations, so it's quite fitting I've eventually ended up working in Government! However, when I first graduated I wanted to experience a different sector and didn't like the idea of joining a graduate scheme until I knew what I wanted to do. I worked in financial recruitment for about 3 years altogether (with a 10 month break in the middle to travel New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia!), but ultimately knew I wanted a career which offered variety, challenge and structured progression. The Fast Stream ticked all those boxes, and I now also get the chance to work on the biggest, most cross-cutting societal issues of the day, which I personally find very exciting!

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

To be honest, when I first graduated I didn't give much thought to what sector I pursued a long term career in, I was mainly interested in getting a job in Central London, where I could live the commuter lifestyle, meet friends after work and save money to go travelling. Once I'd done this, I started thinking about the roles I wanted over the next 5-10 years, and was immediately drawn back to politics/ Government, ultimately choosing to apply for the Fast Stream due to the structure of the scheme and opportunities to explore various roles in one programme.

Describe your most memorable day at work

There are so many! The first that comes to mind is the day I took the picture in my profile - my first meeting at No10. I had been working in the Press Office at the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) for about 3 days, and my manager took me to my first of many weekly meetings with Press Officers across Government, where we represented our departments in discussing key upcoming media and public-facing activity over the next week and what support the No10 team needed from us/ our colleagues to deliver these. It was exhilarating, intense and I remember being so amazed at just how shiny that black door is!

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

I've been lucky enough to have experienced jobs in three government departments so far (HM Treasury, DExEU and HMRC), and each has come with slightly different challenges depending on my role/ nature of my work. However, an overarching theme, especially when working so close to the heart of government, is separating the policy from the politics, to ensure I remain impartial in my role serving the government of the day. This can be difficult, especially when the Government is pursuing a policy I may personally disagree with, and is a skill I'm continuing to hone as I progress.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

The departments I've worked in have all been slightly different in terms of environment and culture, but all three have been office-based roles in Westminster, with excellent team cultures. I'd describe the teams I've worked in as motivating, supportive and inclusive, as well as very fun!

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I was a member of a few societies/ clubs during my time at York, including Music Society, Gilbert & Sullivan, College Netball and YuSnow (just to go on the ski trip!). I got committee roles in the Politics Society and Goodricke College's JCRC, which provided great leadership opportunities and the chance to work with others outside my course. I worked as a Student Ambassador and YuCall Student Caller, which were both great part-time jobs as they developed my communication skills, interest in social mobility, fit well around studying and paid well!

What would you like to do next with your career?

I still have about a year to go before completing the Fast Stream, so my immediate focus is on securing a final 12-month posting in an area I may want to pursue beyond the scheme. My main interests are in central Government coordination roles and continuing to develop my understanding of trade negotiations. However, I'm open to considering areas I haven't had the chance to explore yet - such as domestic policy within the Home Office or Ministry of Justice! Longer term, I'd love to progress to become a Senior Leader in the Civil Service, and have the opportunity to work abroad in one of the UK's embassies for a period of time.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Start thinking now! It's never too early to consider what you want to do with your career, and the sooner you start looking, the more opportunities you will find. Speak to friends/ family members who work in areas you might be interested in or who do jobs you don't really understand. Speak to your friends who are also looking at career opportunities, even if they don't study the same field as you - it's good to broaden your horizons and think beyond your specific degree. When it comes to applying, give yourself time. Get friends/tutors/colleagues to check your work and offer feedback. Finally, this may seem really obvious, but use google! There's a lot of opportunities out there but, you have to give yourself time and space to research and prepare for them.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Everything and anything! From post-uni career planning, applications and interview prep to specific Government or Fast stream opportunities.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Roisin’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Roisin a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Roisin to be your mentor.

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