What degree course did you study and when did you graduate?
I studied mathematics for four years and graduated in 2019.
Why did you choose that particular degree course?
Throughout my time at school I enjoyed mathematics and was confident in my performance in the subject. While I did briefly consider other degree paths (including other sciences and languages), I am very happy with how my eventual decision has turned out.
It is precisely the fact that I didn’t have a specific career path in mind that drew me to studying mathematics. I considered the opportunities available after studying the subject and knew that careers in a wide range of sectors would be available to me after I graduated.
Tell us about your employer
I am a second-year statistician on the Civil Service Fast Stream. Having previously worked in the Department for International Trade, I currently work in HMRC. HMRC is a non-ministerial department responsible for collecting a wide range of taxes, although I work primarily in the customs side of the department. I work closely with relevant external agencies, using trade and customs statistics to better understand the movement of goods around the UK and abroad.
What was the position you were recruited for. Please briefly outline the position you were recruited to within your organisation and summarise the business needs and role you fulfil
I work as an ad-hoc statistical analyst in the Trade Statistics and Customs Analysis team. With the increased attention on UK international trade since the UK left the EU, many projects and initiatives are underway to ensure analysis and analytical products meet the needs of a wide variety of customers. In my role, I lead statistical projects dealing with enhancements to existing statistical products and the development of new products, and I work with stakeholders to understand their analytical needs and develop the tools necessary to meet them.
What attracted you to this position?
My role in HMRC is a fast-paced analytical role that brings together analytical and coding skills with project management skills, and where each day will present new and varied challenges. The diverse needs of stakeholders in this time of great change present opportunities to work on a huge variety of projects and develop my capabilities in a wide range of areas.
More generally, I was attracted to the statistics scheme of the Fast Stream due to not only the fast career progression, but also the variety of roles available in a relatively short amount of time. In my first year on the scheme, I worked in a press office writing press articles and news stories that required statistics, while now I analyse complex datasets via coding to extract useful information for our customers!
What are the key skills you learnt at Warwick that have helped you with your career to date?
One of the greatest skills I developed at Warwick was a sense of curiosity and a drive to learn that may not have been possible studying more structured courses. The mathematics course at Warwick allows students to take some modules outside of the formal curriculum and I took full advantage of this, studying languages, philosophy, and finance modules during my four years at university. In my work life, I now seek out opportunities to develop myself in ways that may not be immediately applicable to the day’s work but have still helped me develop myself to allow wider scope in the projects and positions with which I am able to engage.
What has been your greatest career challenge to date and how did your experience and skills help overcome it?
An experience I’m sure is common to many newer starters, having started working in the Civil Service in late 2020, I was not able to meet any of my colleagues in person for well over six months. Given that my work involved working closely with a wide variety of people, assessing their statistical requirements and developing analysis to fit their needs, this presented a major challenge.
One major difficulty was that you never had those less formal conversations that you might have in the office that allow you to get to know your colleagues. Trying to recreate this by organising quick catch ups where talking about work was not allowed, or virtual events for people to take part in, went some way to help alleviate the difficulties this can cause.
What top tips would you give to students looking for a career in your market sector?
Have a good understanding of the reasons you want to work in the public sector as compared to the private sector. The Civil Service is a unique place to work and often feels like a different culture to firms in the private sector. Understanding these differences, the reasons behind the differences, and why these are values that draw you to the Civil Service will stand you in good stead.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?
If you enjoy the application experience, you are likely to come across much better in interviews and assessment centres. It’s not always easy, but if you are able to relax into an assessment experience and focus on the positives that will come of the experience in any case, you will be able to portray yourself in an authentic light, you will be able to think more clearly and portray the best possible version of yourself to the assessor.