Why I loved being a GCS intern

I joined the internship in September 2020, working in Cabinet Office communications.

I have enjoyed many aspects of this internship, but above all, the variety. I was on rotation throughout my internship, which meant I was placed in the press office, internal comms and external affairs. It was great to see how the different comms disciplines within the Cabinet Office complement one another.

Personal highlights of this internship have been seeing the digital assets I made for UK Parliament Week 2020 go live on the Cabinet Office Intranet. They also went live on public-facing Civil Service and Cabinet Office social media channels. I really enjoyed this project within internal Communications and was proud to see my work go live once finalised.

Emma Latham, Internal Communications Officer, Cabinet Office.

Another highlight for me was the delivery of a successful visit for Minister for Implementation Julia Lopez in October. During my time in External Affairs, I helped my colleague deliver Minister Lopez’ first ministerial visit to Crimestoppers, where she launched the COVID-19 fraud reporting hotline.

It was amazing to see weeks worth of work, briefings and comms handling plans come to life. More generally, I have liked being on the frontline within the press office and sometimes seeing my work in papers the next day. As someone who enjoys a challenge, I enjoyed how fast-paced it was. It was wonderful to work with such talented and intelligent colleagues on some of the most important issues the UK faces.

Upon finishing my internship, I joined the Cabinet Office Internal Communications team, where on a day to day basis I deal with the intranet and its content, graphic design work, various comms campaigns and a few things you see on Civil Service public social media.

I would recommend the programme to any eligible participants if they are considering breaking into comms in the Civil Service: it is a great introduction to the comms landscape at the heart of government. The skills, knowledge and network I acquired as a result of my internship have formed the foundation of my Civil Service career and I highly recommend it! I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds: I am only just getting started in the Civil Service.

Don’t just take my word for it, I spoke to other interns who joined the programme to find out why they also loved being a GCS intern.

Here’s what they said:

Jamie Carver, GCS intern, Scotland Office:

“The GCS Internship has been fundamentally life changing in terms of my career trajectory. My time at the Scotland Office has involved working in a press office – working with government departments on the implementation of UK Government policy in Scotland.

Working with the Strategic Engagement team and Campaigns and Digital team. The latest project I have been working on is the Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force – directly working with Ministers and key stakeholders. Overall the internship has built my confidence and skill set tremendously, and I could not recommend it enough.”

Peaches Brown-Senior, Media Relations Executive, Department of Health and Social Care:

“As a GCS Intern in the Department of Health and Social Care’s fast-paced Press Office I worked on high-profile news issues during the pandemic with a supportive team. From shaping spokesperson lines featured across media and drafting ministerial quotes for announcements, to coordinating briefing documents.

I gained a real insight into how the government communicates with the public and after my GCS Internship I was successfully promoted as a Media Relations Executive.”

Lucie Obrtelova, Compliance Caseworker – Officer, Campaigns & Projects, Individual & Small Business Compliance, HMRC, Previous GCS intern:

“Working as a GCS Local intern was an important milestone for my both personal and professional development as it allowed me to build up skills in communications and stakeholder management whilst assisting the team in delivering campaigns, such as Black History Month and the Skills Toolkit, in the North.

This experience gave me the opportunity to step my foot into the Civil Service and I am grateful it helped me secure a permanent position with HM Revenue & Customs. So if you are considering a career in communications and wish to gain an insight into the public sector work, I would encourage you to apply!”

Aashni Thanki, History BA at University College London, interning at HMRC:

“My internship at HMRC allowed me to become familiar with working in a professional environment and operating under quick deadlines. I really enjoyed assisting with projects such as Net Zero and the COVID-19 financial schemes. The experience has allowed me to develop my skills in conducting research and organising, as we often had to liaise with various design teams to create content for social media.”

Beauty Dhlamini, Previous GCS intern at the Department for Transport:

“I gained several skills during my internship, the main one being learning how to communicate, really clearly and succinctly to different audiences. One of my highlights of the internship was working with the marketing team on the THINK! campaign.

It was so interesting seeing our ideas come to life and actually being made live on the THINK! social media platforms. Aside from those skills, one of the best things about the internship was working and networking alongside other interns. I learned a lot, not just about myself but about working with other people and the importance of teamwork. The staff in the Department for Transport were beyond supportive within our role as interns, but also in their encouragement for us to pursue roles within the Civil Service.

My internship was initially for 6 weeks, however, it got extended for a further 6 weeks by my team because of how much I enjoyed my time. I would definitely encourage anyone to apply for the GCS internship as it was a wonderful and eye-opening experience!”

I would definitely encourage anyone to apply for the GCS internship as it was a wonderful and eye-opening experience

Ellie McGarahan, Communications Intern, Cabinet Office:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a GCS Intern and have found the experience invaluable. Having worked alongside the Executive Director for Government Communications, Alex Aiken, I have been afforded a unique insight into how the Government Communications Service delivers on the Government and Prime Minister’s wide-ranging priorities.

I have worked in a Private Office capacity, attending meetings with ministers and departmental Directors of Communications, whilst also shadowing other teams such as the Cabinet Office Press Office, the Rapid Response Unit and the Prime Minister’s Campaigns team. A particular highlight has been leading on the organisation of the ‘Club of Venice’ strategic communications seminar, which will see over 140 of Europe’s most senior communications specialists gather to discuss key issues and practices.

My internship contract was extended and I am now interested in securing a long-term position within the GCS. Overall, my experience has been invaluable. I would recommend this internship to anyone who is not afraid to get stuck in, who is ready to take on responsibility and who is enthusiastic to get a real grounding in government communications.”

Laura Jackson, GCS Intern in the Cabinet Office’s National Resilience Communication Hub:

“During my time as an intern I have worked on a broad range of projects and campaigns involved in COVID-19 including Hands, Face, Space, Test and Trace, and Stay at Home.

I have gained a wide range of skills across strategic communications, the marketing team and external affairs as well as behavioural science and insights. As a recent graduate I am also pleased that my initial 12-week internship has been extended by an extra six months!”

Emma Topic, Final Year International Relations student at the University of York, Previous GCS intern:

“I absolutely loved being a GCS intern. I worked in Internal Comms at the Home Office where I had the chance to produce my own Comms Plan for the 2020 People Survey, as well as working with senior leaders to host weekly ‘what’s on your mind?’ sessions shaped around key Home Office priorities.

Now that I have returned to finish my final year at university, I am keen to come back to GCS to explore different avenues of comms. I would recommend the internship to anyone that wants to gain greater insight into government communications. It’s a great way to get a foot in the door!”

Charlotte Mackrell, GCS intern, Home Office:

“The GCS Internship programme has enabled me to explore an exciting pathway into the Civil Service and the communications profession. During my time as an intern I’ve gained countless skills and experiences in a variety of truly fascinating policy and communication areas, which I have been fortunate to continue due to my original contract being extended.”

Caitlin Shaw, Communications Intern, Office for National Statistics and Graphic Communication and Illustration student at Loughborough University:

“Being a GCS intern at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been an amazing experience that has given me a great introduction to the world of communications. I have been lucky enough to spend 7 months at the ONS, working on a wide variety of projects, including designing a keynote presentation for the National Statistician, used at an international statistical conference.”

Nitasha Afzal, GCS Intern, Department for Food Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), Strategic Communication – Animal and Plant Health team:

“Being a GCS intern was a unique experience where I was empowered, inspired and learned something new every day.

My team was helpful and made working from home much easier and straightforward despite the challenges it comes with. If there was something I didn’t know, there was always someone to ask for help. I was assigned to work on the International Year of Plant Health which is an United Nations’ initiative to raise awareness about , part of my job was to monitor social media, collect and analyse data and at the end I wrote an evaluation for Plant Health Week 2020.

My internship has taught me a lot about my skill set and given me confidence in my own abilities. It has helped guide my career aspirations and will definitely help me in my future career choices.”

Apply now

Applications for this year’s round of the award-winning GCS Diversity and Inclusion scheme are now open. Eligible applicants can apply via our internship page. The deadline is 11:55pm on Monday 8 March.

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