GCS apprenticeship: starting my career in comms

In October 2020, I secured a spot on the GCS Apprenticeship programme, and was placed in the Cabinet Office’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) comms hub. At school, I always thought I would go to university as it seemed to be the only pathway suggested for academic students. However, I didn’t know what I would study or do as a career; I felt very lost.

While exploring my options, I found the GCS Apprenticeship, which looked like a great opportunity to learn on the job. While I think higher education is important to fully understand your sector, there’s value in gaining work experience alongside this to gain skills to readily apply in a working environment. This opportunity has already offered me so much more than any lecture hall could have.

Through working in the COVID-19 Communications Hub, within just weeks I experienced remarkable developments both personally and professionally. Entering into the working world straight from school was daunting but I can’t emphasise enough how supportive my team and the GCS as a whole is.

I am treated no different than a fellow colleague, even senior colleagues have offered me their time and advice to help my development.

I was particularly impressed with the support from my line manager and team, who ensure I am equipped to excel in tasks that I am interested in.

Of course, starting this apprenticeship during the pandemic has been challenging, but I’ve been presented with amazing opportunities that wouldn’t have happened unless I took this plunge into the deep-end.

For example, I’m trusted and given responsibility to deliver important tasks such as working on accessible communications and liaising with a range of stakeholders.

I also was able to shadow Alex Aiken, the Executive Director of Government Communications; an invaluable experience as someone at the beginning of their communications career.

I’ve also gained a deep understanding of the structure of GCS, the wider Civil Service and the Government operation as a whole, including how departments work together. I’ve learnt about the need for communications to be direct, digital, diverse, data-driven, in addition to countering disinformation and planning for crises.

Overall, the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 and working within the Hub specifically has highlighted to me the vital importance of communications. It’s been extremely valuable to have gained a practical awareness on how to communicate effectively, and ultimately have a positive influence on people’s lives where it matters most.

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  • Amber Warne (1)