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What is the Civil Service Fast Stream by STFC watch

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    Got a question about the Civil Service Fast Stream as an alternative route into science? Our experts are here to help.

    Marie-Louise is currently working at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) on a six month posting as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream. She joined the Science and Engineering Fast Stream 18 months ago, after graduating with a Masters in Physics and Astronomy in 2016, and has previously picked up experience in specialist support work, accountancy and management consultancy.

    Please be aware all answers will be posted on Friday 16 February.
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    I'm in a very fortunate situation where I have been offered places in an engineering graduate scheme with a reputable company and also in Civil Service Fast Stream. The latter is more of a commercial role where I'll be involved in procurement and contract management. This programme is designed to make future civil servants. So, the career progression prospects is excellent. Plus the benefit of being a civil servant.

    The engineering programme also offer very good progression prospects. And I'm an engineering graduate, so, I do have personal interest in this field. They both offer exactly the same salary. However, I'm still undecided, as, being a civil servant will give me some unique opportunities. I'll be doing things that has impact on a lot of people and the level of responsibility is very high from the start. But on the other hand I'm an engineer!

    Any advice?
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    I have 4 offers for study this September at uni, and have no clue which one to choose. They are:
    - Bristol: politics + ir (ABB)
    - Manchester: PPE (AAB)
    - Edinburgh: INternational law and relations (AAB)
    - Queen's Belfast: PPE (AAA)
    My ambition is the civil service fast stream - is there any advice on which course would be best? Would it be better to spend the extra year at Edinburgh to get the masters despite the extra costs?
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    (Original post by rubaiet)
    I'm in a very fortunate situation where I have been offered places in an engineering graduate scheme with a reputable company and also in Civil Service Fast Stream. The latter is more of a commercial role where I'll be involved in procurement and contract management. This programme is designed to make future civil servants. So, the career progression prospects is excellent. Plus the benefit of being a civil servant.

    The engineering programme also offer very good progression prospects. And I'm an engineering graduate, so, I do have personal interest in this field. They both offer exactly the same salary. However, I'm still undecided, as, being a civil servant will give me some unique opportunities. I'll be doing things that has impact on a lot of people and the level of responsibility is very high from the start. But on the other hand I'm an engineer!

    Any advice?


    Firstly, congratulations on your two job offers! It sounds like you are really deciding between being trained up either in engineering or in the commercial world, which are very different career paths. I can only speak from my experience as a Science and Engineering Fast Streamer, so my Civil Service roles have had less of a commercial focus, but some things to think about that could help inform your choice:

    Are you looking to specialise as an expert in a technical engineering role, or gain a wide range of experience in different teams and functions?
    What kind of salary progression are you seeking in the first few years of your career?
    Are you happy to move to different postings in different locations as needed?
    Are you open as to the kind of roles and subject matter you want to gain experience in during the first few years of your career?

    The Fast Stream doesn’t provide a large progression in pay whilst on the four year scheme, but there is a more significant increase upon completion, and the variety of roles on offer to Fast Streamers during their four years is, in my opinion, unparalleled! You don't get to choose specific postings though (unless you have relocation restrictions such as caring responsibilities), so being open minded about where you work, both thematically and geographically, makes a huge difference to your enjoyment of the scheme. This is something to think about really carefully. Most importantly, think about what you enjoy doing, and what you can see yourself wanting to get out of bed for in the morning!
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    (Original post by Jcf0103)
    I have 4 offers for study this September at uni, and have no clue which one to choose. They are:
    - Bristol: politics + ir (ABB)
    - Manchester: PPE (AAB)
    - Edinburgh: INternational law and relations (AAB)
    - Queen's Belfast: PPE (AAA)
    My ambition is the civil service fast stream - is there any advice on which course would be best? Would it be better to spend the extra year at Edinburgh to get the masters despite the extra costs?


    Congratulations on all your university offers! It is hard to advise any course over another, as the Fast Stream is a really broad programme spanning lots of different specialist streams, so it depends a lot on the particular scheme that you are interested in. Some of them do have different entry requirements so it is worth checking the website if there is something specific you would like to apply to in the future: https://www.faststream.gov.uk/

    Schemes like the Generalist, Houses of Parliament, Project Delivery and even Finance streams accept candidates from a huge spectrum of academic backgrounds. Only the Science and Engineering stream requires a Masters or a PhD, so this isn't a necessity for any of the other streams that you might like to apply for. It could help you to stand out if you have more than a bachelors degree, but there is also a multitude of other things you can do to help with your employability aside from a Masters, so ultimately it is up to you whether you want to pursue your studies for that extra year. The application process for the Fast Stream is constantly evolving though, so some of this could change between now and when you apply in a few years time!

    As a general rule, go for a course that covers topics that look interesting to you and that you think you will enjoy studying for. Secondly, think about what you can excel in, so that you can make sure that you will be applying for jobs after your time at university with the best possible degree qualification you can achieve. Finally, keep in mind whether your degree will leave you time to pursue other interests and opportunities like societies, internships and volunteering roles. This will go a long way to preparing you for the kind of challenges that you will come up against in the Fast Stream application and assessment centre, and the job itself! Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.
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