Summer Diversity Internship: What's SDIP-opping You?
"I applied to the Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) in the chaos of my final year studying History at the University of Nottingham. I’d decided that I wanted to join the Civil Service a year earlier, after hearing about the Fast Stream at a careers fair. Before then, (if I’m honest) I knew very little about ‘Whitehall’ or what it meant to work there, though I was quickly inspired to find out more. I learned that as a civil servant I’d have the opportunity to work on issues of national importance, driving forward policies and delivering operations that change society for the better. And I was sold.
So (mostly as a distraction from my half written dissertation and pile of books that were, by this stage, skimming the ceiling) I decided to apply to the SDIP.
I applied in 2015/16 when the application consisted of:
- A series of online tests (Verbal Reasoning, Numerical and Situational Judgement)
- A written application and;
- A telephone interview
The process is slightly different now with applicants only having to complete one online test (Situational Judgement) plus a written application and telephone interview. Applications for this summer have now closed, but will open again in September 2019, so keep your eyes peeled! My top tips for success would be to: prepare as much as you can in advance, make sure you’re relaxed before the online tests and be authentic during the interview.
A few months after my telephone interview I found out that I’d been successful! I was delighted to be on my way to the Department for Transport to work on High Speed Rail 2, a new railway that will be the backbone of Britain’s transport system. While I was based in Westminster, there are SDIP placements nationwide and the Fast Stream team will do their very best to place you according to your preferences. I joined the Business Case and Benefits Team for 3 months and had the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting projects including developing a core script for our team’s work and drafting our contribution to the Management Case (part of the Business Case for HS2) which was published the following year! I also spent time shadowing senior colleagues across Whitehall, including at the Department for Education during a mini secondment.
I found the SDIP experience incredibly insightful and a lot of fun. It provided me with an opportunity to gain a genuine insight into the work of a civil servant, exposing me to a new working environment and allowing me to make some brilliant contacts. These are important things for any person starting off in the world of work to experience, but it is particularly important for those from underrepresented groups, who seldom see themselves reflected in schemes like the Fast Stream or in the Senior Civil Service. This lack of representation, can cause potential BAME candidates to feel as though the Fast Stream isn’t for people like them and impact on whether they choose to apply - which is bad for us all.
The SDIP is a small but valuable step in correcting this and one that I would highly recommend trying if you’re interested in a career in government.
Following a brilliant SDIP experience, I went on to join the Fast Stream and have continued to work on an array of fascinating policy areas, across a variety of departments including the Ministry of Justice and Home Office."
Second Year Fast Streamer and former ‘SDIPer’.
Keep an eye on our opportunities here: www.faststream.gov.uk