As of writing this blog, I’m now on week 8 of my internship. It’s crazy to think I’m already two-thirds of the way through my time here. I guess time flies when you’re busy.
The past 4 weeks have been incredibly eventful. I’ve spent a lot of time on the train, travelling around south Wales and going to London.
Touring south Wales
As you may remember from my last blog, I was due to embark on a tour of south Wales for my shadowing week.
This began with a trip to the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales in Cardiff Bay. I spent the day with their communications team whose work involves, amongst other things, answering press enquiries and planning events for the Minister. The fast-paced nature of the office was fascinating, and I was pleased to be able to help and draft social media posts for an upcoming ministerial visit.
I then spent a day at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea with my internship mentor, Kelly Cambule. I met each function of the communications team, from internal communications to the graphics department.
One highlight for me was an insightful chat with David Jenkins, their media relations officer. David talked about some of the biggest press stories he’s worked on which inspired me to find out more about how the press office worked.
Another highlight was looking around the dozens of floors at DVLA, one of which had a race track carpet and a Mini Cooper sofa.
My final stop was to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in Newport. My visit coincided with a very exciting time as they were preparing for the 2021 census. I found out more about the changes to the census from teams from across communications.
Speaking to media officer, Llinos Merriman about the census trial campaign was an exciting part of the day and I really felt I was at the centre of important government decisions. I also had a delicious fish and chips at their huge canteen!
This tour was a fantastic insight into how different government departments function and opened my eyes to the sort of careers I could pursue when I graduate. My tour isn’t quite over yet – I’m also visiting the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) next week.
Back on home soil
Coming back into the office after an insightful few days made me even more excited to get back to work on my campaign. I’d also missed curry club on Thursday, so it was good to be back.
Since my previous blog, I’ve been doing lots of work on my confirmation statement campaign. Leading this was a bit daunting but I was looking forward to seeing the content I’d created published on social media and GOV.UK.
Working with the team and using the Government Digital Service (GDS) guidance, I wrote social posts for all our channels to promote existing and new content. I didn't think this would be difficult, but adapting my style and using plain English, rather than my usual academic writing style, has been a bit of a challenge.
As well as writing for social media, I worked with digital content manager Anna and our colleagues in user research to create an external video. The video explains the difference between review periods and payment periods for confirmation statements.
After speaking with the customer insight team, we found this was one of the most common questions our support teams deal with. So this video should help clarify this for customers.
I've enjoyed every minute of planning, creating content and promoting the campaign. I’m looking forward to the next stage - evaluation.
Weekly trains to London
As well as my stops around Wales, I’ve made several trips to London. Each trip to Whitehall makes me feel pretty important as I’ve had meetings at Admiralty House and the Churchill rooms.
Last week I went to Whitehall for the internship competency training, in which recruitment specialists shared some tips for applying to Civil Service jobs. It was great to learn some new interview techniques and will be very helpful when I apply for graduate jobs.
I’ve also met with other interns to work on our group project. As part of the internship, we had to deliver a presentation on what we believe a future Government Communications Service (GCS) leader looks like and write an alternative Civil Service leadership statement with the GCS in mind.
I met with the other interns 2 weeks ago to discuss what characteristics we believe a GCS leader should have, we settled on:
I’ve researched the innovative branch of the presentation. I’ve compared approaches to innovative leadership from leaders like Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, to various government departments, using the example of our own digital team’s innovation time.
After putting our slides together, it was time to present at the internship closing ceremony. This was held in the same room Winston Churchill gave his speech to announce the end of World War 2. As a history student I was very excited to be standing in that same spot.
All our teamwork paid off and the presentation went very well. I discussed the importance of innovation within the GCS and answered some challenging questions from directors of communications across government. This allowed me to develop my public speaking skills and receiving great feedback from the panellists was the perfect ending to the evening.
Sadly, my next blog will be my last as I return to university to finish my history degree. But I can’t wait to see what will happen in September as we prepare for the peak filing period and I get to try more of the weekly cake and curries!