6 min read

Alex Vince, one of our History and Politics Alumni, has found himself back in Portsmouth in September 2018, five years after he graduated. This time he’s here, not as part of the University, but supporting the work of the Royal Navy as a Civil Service Fast Streamer.

The Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated leadership development programme that provides graduates from a range of backgrounds with the skills, knowledge and experience to become leaders within the Civil Service itself.

As a Fast Streamer, you can work across a huge variety of government departments in various locations across the UK. The variety of experience gained will allow you to develop a portfolio of experience, moving between work areas and projects. You have the opportunity to work in front line operational delivery, policy and corporate services.

We caught up with Alex to find out more about life following graduation, what led him to apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream and to pick up on any hints and tips he has for those of you who are starting to consider your prospects after graduation.

Why Portsmouth?

"I was drawn to Portsmouth for two main reasons.

First, they offered excellent student support. They stuck to this offer when I was there. Every experience I had with the University, be it the Careers and Employability Service, the Chaplaincy and other pastoral support was warm and friendly.

The second reason was due to the strength of Portsmouth’s Politics and International Relations courses. I’ve worked in some form of policy in either the third sector or government ever since – so I feel like Portsmouth prepared me for later life."

Your graduate job search

"I started my graduate job search towards the end of my third year. This was a mistake – the earlier you think about these things, the easier you make them for yourselves after university! At work, the strongest candidates we see are those who are taking an interest in us towards the second year of their studies.

I wish I’d known a lot more about what schemes were available and where my skills would be useful. I started my job search being too focused on one type of work. A more open mind would have let me find something that fit me better straight after university."

Life after graduation

"After I graduated in 2013 I went on to work with Portsmouth Students’ Union. Moving from Students’ Unions to a more full time career has helped develop my skills, me as a person and opened up so many more doors.

The lesson I learned was not to stick with what you know, but work out where you could learn brand new things. You never know where you might excel if you never try new careers!"

Applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream

"I first encountered the Fast Stream at University. I tried to join and failed to get in. I reapplied many years later and was successful. By building on what I learned at University with experiences from other jobs, I was able to make myself a much more well rounded candidate. You don’t need to get into your ideal job straight after university. You can use other roles to build up more skills and experiences.

In relation to the application process, I had to pick which scheme I wanted to do first. This could be specialist schemes, such as economics or digital, to department based schemes, such as the Houses of Parliament or the Foreign Office, or the generalist scheme - which could lead anywhere!

Then I had to do a number of online tests, including a video interview. Finally, I had to pass the main assessment centre – a half day where you get a chance to show what you’re really made of in a number of different exercises. It’s a tough assessment – excellent for those who want a challenge.

I had the advantage of doing some time as an employability coordinator before I applied for the role, so I knew what kind of behaviours they’d be looking for. I also did a lot of research before my application started, including talking to other people in the service. As with anything in life – a little bit of planning made it a lot easier."

The here and now… the Civil Service Fast Stream

"My experience has been amazing. I was working in the Department for Exiting the European Union during negotiations, helping to build schools around the country during my time in the Department for Education, wrote speeches for debates in Parliament when I was in the Department of Health and currently work in the Navy!

The variety of experiences is amazing - and I know from speaking to other Fast Streamers that each of them have a unique story to tell. It’s been an excellent opportunity to really work out who I really am and what I want to do."

"After completion of the programme, I plan to stay in government for the foreseeable future. There are some very exciting opportunities I want to explore – there’s a huge amount that I still need to learn."

Further information

  • Visit the Government website for the Civil Service Fast Stream for an overview of opportunities
  • The Prospects website offers a job profile for a Civil Service Fast Stream - providing more insight into what the scheme has to offer
  • Find out more about the career path into the Civil Service Fast Stream through All About Careers
  • Research Civil Service Jobs for opportunities after the Fast Stream
The variety of experiences is amazing – and I know from speaking to other Fast Streamers that each of them have a unique story to tell. It’s been an excellent opportunity to really work out who I really am and what I want to do.
Alex Vince, History and Politics Alumni