The first panel at the Alternative Careers Conference was crammed full of advice, knowledge, humour, and passion. Attending the Conference were people from both the late stages in their career in the civil and the earliest.
The first speaker we listened to was Robert Deane. As Head of Knowledge at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Robert’s job entails quite a few important aspects. He heads a team of many and has to work in conjunction with several different departments. In the later stages of his career, Robert is a man who it would be fair to say has affected every single person in the UK’s lives at some point or other through his work in various departments throughout the Civil Service. Robert emphasised the environment of inclusivity within the Civil Service, stating that they are not droids to be bossed around by ministers, but people with “views, emotions and stresses”. He’s travelled around the world with his job and emphasises that working within the Civil Service is not all about sitting behind a desk.
Next up was Stuart Austin. Stuart has only worked within the Civil Service for a few months, however, in his short time he said he’s learned much about himself and the role that he fulfilled. The general gist of his job was that he writes the correspondence with angry or happy citizens that are sent in reply within the department for Brexit. The letters that arrive on his desk have ranged from raging “we need a harder, faster Brexit” to scared “what’s going to happen to me and my family”. In this role Stuart has had to practice keeping neutral and pushing the government line. Stuart said that he loves his job. Emphasising to LSE students that you don’t need to be a banker to have a good life, even quipping to an imaginary LSE student, “you go be a banker, I want to enjoy my life”. His emphasis of being patient and finding the career that fit your skills and interests is one that hit home with the present students. Sometimes it feels as though the point of being at LSE is internship applications and a future at Goldman Sachs – this is not the case, and one that Stuart found out from experience. “If that’s what you want, fine, go for it. It’s just not for all of us”.
The final speaker within the Civil Service panel was Joel Rosen, another, more senior employee in the department for Brexit. Joel began his career in the Swiss Army, and it was here that he realised that money wasn’t his driving motivation, affecting the lives of others for positive change was. After leaving the army he found that the way he could do this on the wildest scale, to have a positive influence on people’s lives, was through government and the Civil Service. Much of Joel’s job was designing the ways in which Britain would extract itself from Europe once Article 50 is triggered. Much of his recent work was confidential, however the few details he did give were exciting – from meeting with MPs to designing strategies. This last point is why Joel said that he loved his current job. He knew that the strategies he was helping to formulate would impact millions of lives all across Europe in the recent future, and by being as creative and thorough as possible he could help make those lives better. Joel inspired us to think about what it is that motivates us, and said that this is what should be looked for when finding ourselves a career. If you’re motivated by money, follow the standard LSE career path, but if not, find what you are motivated by, and pursue that.
The good news for all the readers of this at the LSE is that all our panellists emphasised how their degrees helped to prepare them for their career in the Civil Service. With an equal balance of quants and quals, it’s not so much what you do at LSE, but how you apply yourselves afterwards. Additionally, they emphasised that due to the widening of the Civil Service after Brexit, you have never been in a better position to apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream – a sure-fire way, if accepted, to help push you into an influential career within government.