|Diplomatic Fast Streamer|
|Foreign and Commonwealth Office|
|Government and civil service|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Diplomatic Fast Streamer in the United Kingdom
I really wanted a job that could bring together my love of travelling, politics and my endless curiosity.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) promotes the United Kingdom's interests overseas and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. We promote the interests of British citizens, safeguard the UK’s security, defend our values, reduce poverty and tackle global challenges with our international partners. We're made up of a worldwide network of Posts (High Commissions, Embassies, Consulates and Offices) in over 270 locations.
What do you do?
I am on the Diplomatic Fast Stream. At the FCO, everyone typically changes jobs every 3-4 years with a combination of working in the UK and at our embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic offices around the world.
In the UK, we work to develop our foreign policy and advise the Foreign Secretary and Ministers. We might focus on bilateral work, multilateral work, consular support, media and communications, project management or decide to specialise in a particular region of the world.
Overseas, we represent the UK. We work to protect our people, project our influence and promote our prosperity. This could range from working with our host countries on security issues, building relationships with the host country to advance both of our interests or promoting business links.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
Straight after university, I went to China for 5 months to teach English. I really enjoyed learning about a new culture, a new way of working and getting to know people. I found local customs and politics fascinating and really wanted a job that could bring together my love of travelling, politics and my endless curiosity. I applied for an internship at the FCO when I got back. I thoroughly enjoyed the 9 month plus experience which then led me to apply for the fast stream.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I left university. I had just graduated from a law degree and felt I should follow the steps to becoming a lawyer. I found it really useful to take some time out and really think about what I wanted to do. Teaching English abroad allowed me to do something productive and challenging, whilst giving me the time to consider what I wanted to do. It turns out the experience of moving to a different country and learning about its culture was really what I wanted to do.
Describe your most memorable day at work
I could not pick one most memorable day. I have done such an incredible variety of really interesting work. It ranges from interacting with foreign dignitaries to welcoming British Nationals we evacuated from Wuhan, from writing briefings for Her Majesty The Queen to working on the fall out from the killing of Soleimani and the arrest of our ambassador to Tehran. There are too many memories to count (and that's with just over 2 years in the office!).
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
It's important to acknowledge that the life of a diplomat can be difficult. You are signing up to spend half of your professional life abroad. Whilst that comes with huge advantages, unbelievable experiences and a deep appreciation for people and cultures, it's also a difficult career to navigate your personal and family life. However, the FCDO provides a lot of support to make sure that you are comfortable and happy wherever you are. I can't wait to work abroad.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
I did things I enjoyed. I worked in senior positions on both the Law Society Comittee and the OpenMinds volunteering project. I worked on Kids Camp and as a Head STYC in freshers week. I also took advantage of the internships and worked at the City of York Council over the summer of second year. These helped to develop my skills of leadership, teamwork, adaptability, communication and delivering at pace which are vital in my line of work.
What would you like to do next with your career?
As we change jobs every 3-4 years, there are endless possibilities for my career at the FCDO. I'm really excited about what it will bring both professionally and personally. I can't wait to be posted abroad and represent my country. My ultimate goal would be to be an Ambassador or High Commissioner, but that's a long way off!
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Reach out and speak to people. They are your best sources of information about upcoming jobs, advice on applications etc. Take every opportunity you have - it will all contribute to making you a more rounded and employable individual. If you're scared about something, it's all the more reason to do it anyway!
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
I'm happy to answer questions on the FCDO, the fast stream, the diplomatic fast stream process, anyone who thinks the FCDO isn't for them because of who they are (race, sexuality, socio-economic background etc.). I'm also happy to chat in general about the civil service and future ambitions.
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