Internship: let’s celebrate our differences
22 Dec 2020 04:18 PM
Blog posted by: Nitasha Afzal, GCS intern at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 21 December 2020.
I’m originally from Pakistan, I was 5 years old when my parents moved to Italy, and this is where I grew up. I moved to the UK for university and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the Civil Service, however, I was scared of the barriers I might face due to my ethnic background.
When I heard about the GCS Diversity and Inclusion internship scheme and how it encouraged diverse candidates to apply, I started the application process straight away. When I was offered a place on the internship programme, I was completely ecstatic. It felt like a dream coming true!
Working in an inclusive environment
Before starting the internship, my preconception was that I would be working in a very bureaucratic and formal environment. Joining at such an ambiguous time and settling into a new virtual working environment felt like an enormous challenge. I felt shy and I had fears of how I would adapt considering my diverse background.
However, I was immediately put at ease when I started. I felt welcomed and my team members were friendly and approachable. It was lovely to see the effort everyone went to make me feel welcome, and not once I felt excluded or out of place.
It was pleasant to know that GCS is aiming to become more and more diverse and inclusive as this specific GCS internship was a chance for people like me to get introduced to the Civil Service. Recently Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched their own project to support diversity, setting a dashboard that everyone can use to suggest actions to take forward as a group to ensure they are as inclusive as possible.
Let’s celebrate our differences
In terms of diversity, I was happy to see that what I considered disadvantages turned into advantages. Being multilingual, I have developed good communication and problem-solving skills, which were particularly useful within this role. Things that I had considered barriers were in fact an added value to the team.
Overall, I am enjoying my internship, I have gained a rich understanding of public policy and how these are translated and communicated practically. What I appreciated the most is that I was given great scope to make an impact from day one. I am committed to making a significant contribution to the Civil Service, and make a positive difference.