Government Communications Service
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My career journey from Primary School teacher to GCS apprentice…

Blog posted by: Mandi Johal, GCS Apprentice, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 06 February 2024.

I am in my third month as an apprentice with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), working in the internal communications team for the Environment Agency. 

I was a primary teacher for four years and needed a career change and wanted to do something completely different, but did I know what that was at the time? Not a chance. I came across the Government Communication Service apprenticeship on the Civil Service website and was immediately intrigued by the communications role.   

This experience is completely different from my time at university and if I’d known about this route in the past, then I would have taken the opportunity! Plus, the application process was very relaxed, and the interviewers made me feel very comfortable during the interview. I would recommend looking at the STAR method when preparing for interviews, when you decide to join the GCS! 

As a GCS apprentice, no day is the same. Every role within communications is different and that is something I’ve learnt from speaking to other apprentices. I currently work in internal communications and have been working on editing and posting stories to our intranet. 

On my second day, I was involved in DEFRA Group Live and was tasked, with another team member, to take photographs of the different events happening during the day. What a great way to be introduced to the diverse world of internal communications.  

I’ve also worked to put together the weekly staff email, along with my line manager, which is sent to a national audience. Every step of the way I’ve had plenty of support – it helps when you’ve got a great team to help you.

My apprenticeship may have only begun a few months ago, but I am already learning more communication skills and using skills I previously gained from my teaching career. I am excited to see where the remainder of this apprenticeship with GCS will take me. 

One thing I’m really looking forward to is the opportunity to work in different areas of communications. This will ultimately help me to decide which communications discipline I would ideally like to work in once my apprenticeship is finished.


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