Afsanah Ali – GCS Apprentice, Department for Work and Pensions

I chose the apprenticeship route as I wanted to explore a career in the Civil Service whilst being able to have the opportunity to expand my work experience in varied departments within the strategic communications directorate. 

At the time, I knew about the Civil Service from a friend. He’d explained how he was right in the centre of political change and how he’d been given opportunities to do amazing policy work. I thoroughly enjoyed politics during my studies, so I applied to the apprenticeship scheme that evening! 

I have managed to work in three different areas across the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). As an apprentice the opportunities are endless and the professional freedom you get while being one is something you cannot get in a normal 9-5. 

No two days are the same, and that’s what I love about working in my department. 

I had started in Internal Communications, producing great content and gathering news stories from all over DWP. I would write, edit and upload various stories to our homepage as well as update the mailbox on queries that had come in. I also had the opportunity to produce our ‘Ask Peter Live’ colleague call with Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield. 

I then went on placement to the DWP Press Office where I was placed on the corporate desk. This meant responsibility for departmental news including Child Maintenance Service, Reducing Parental Conflict as well No.10 planning meetings. 

Within the first week, I was given an opportunity to write a press notice for The Big Issue about Afghan refugees. I was taught how to pitch to journalists and learnt about the internal clearance process through SpAds and the Minister’s private office. I also attended No.10 on various occasions. 

My last placement was to DWP Digital and Social where I was going out on locations with our Ministers up and down the country and capturing content with a camera. I was taught how to take professional footage and pictures as well as editing them on software. 

I believe my future here in GCS is very bright. The work I have done in the past year has been unforgettable. I have shown my managers that I’m flexible and skilled enough to adapt to any type of work that is laid out in front of me. I was given a plethora of opportunities and chances to grow professionally and creatively. 

The experience you gain whilst doing an apprenticeship is something you cannot get anywhere else and it’s really one-of-a-kind.