Making the leap from growing up in care to a Civil Service career and working on the frontline during Covid-19 didn’t happen easily. Matthew I’anson recalls his experience joining the Civil Service through the Talent Diversity Internship Programme
My name is Matthew I’anson and I work in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as part of the Security Profession Capability team.
I joined the Civil Service through the Talent Diversity Internship Programme (TDIP) and enrolled on a Level 2 Business Administration apprenticeship as part of the scheme’s offer.
The TDIP scheme is aimed at getting care leavers into employment within the Civil Service and providing us with valuable work experience and skills, including a relevant qualification through the apprenticeship. It has been documented that care leavers’ prospects are considerably worse than the general population.
Like everyone on the TDIP scheme, I grew up in care. I spent most of my childhood in foster homes, as well as some time in a residential children’s home in Spain. Unlike many care leavers, I did well academically and went on to study at university. Yet, after graduating I found myself without many prospects and ending up working in fast food for five years.
I decided to apply for the Civil Service when my partner told me about the TDIP scheme. He worked for the Civil Service. I knew from his experience that the Civil Service was a good place to work, having seen first-hand all the help, support and development opportunities he received.
When I applied to the TDIP scheme, I didn’t even know which department I would be working for, let alone which area or team. Shortly after my interview, I learned that I had been successful and was offered a role in DWP, within Security and Data Protection.
At that point, I had no idea what that really meant, but my team leader Darren got in touch with me quickly, to say hello and explain what security and data protection encompassed. It was so much broader than I had imagined – and what my own team were responsible for.
I started my new job at the beginning of March 2020 and, in the space of three weeks, I was redeployed from my new role in Security into working on the frontlines of Universal Credit during the Covid-19 crisis. Now I was based in a job centre in Leeds.
This was a challenging start to my experience. I had only just started to settle into my normal team and was still learning about DWP and Security and Data Protection within it. I had also just started my apprenticeship and was a little worried about how this would affect it.
As it turned out, my time working in a jobcentre and later in the Virtual Service Centre was a challenging but hugely rewarding experience.
Proud and thankful
I feel proud and thankful that I was able to help provide an essential service to the public during a time of national crisis. I am grateful to my operational colleagues in the job centre and to my other redeployed colleagues in the Virtual Service Centre.
Back on track
Once I returned to my business area after redeployment, I was able to get back on track with my apprenticeship and really get to grips with my new role.
I fell behind my expected progress for my apprenticeship, but my talent coach put together a plan, and soon I started hitting my progress targets.
Returning to a corporate role also gave me more opportunities to put into practice some of the skills I was learning on my business administration apprenticeship. By now I was working on different projects. These included a refresh of some of our capability products which involve role profiles and learning maps.
I’ve been lucky enough to have some great experiences and opportunities given to me while taking part in the TDIP scheme and my apprenticeship.
I have been selected to sit on the Security and Data Protection senior leadership team board to represent an alternative viewpoint. And I attended a meet and greet with Minister Julia Lopez, Parliamentary Secretary for Cabinet Office, to talk about apprenticeships within the Civil Service.
I have now experienced directly the help, support and development opportunities my partner told me about. My advice about Civil Service apprenticeships? Go for it!
You can find out more about becoming a Civil Service apprentice at the new apprenticeships page on the Civil Service Careers Website.