This Oxford linguist quit his job at a top city law firm to serve his country
He’s the graduate your parents always dreamed you would be
Dashing Oxford graduate and former city-slicker Giles defied his city bosses when he quit his job at a prestigious law firm to join the Civil Service Fast Stream.
The brave Balliol College linguist warned future graduates not to be drawn in by the allure of a “city” career, and to consider carefully what they’ll end up doing.
He said: “It’s all too easy to be impressed by the prestige, appearance of success and the “excitement” in the city. I joined a magic circle firm because its reputation attracted me and it seemed like a solid profession.
“In reality, I would sit at my desk summarising dozens of 100 page leases looking for potential risks for investors who wanted to buy warehouses.”
But the fun didn’t stop there: “14 hour days and a coffee supply in my drawers were the norm. The novelty and adrenaline of all-nighters wears off after the first one or two, it’s really not that much fun.”
And so Giles did what many fear to – he took the plunge and left his “successful” career path.
He said joining the Civil Service Fast Stream was the best decision he has made since leaving university: “You feel like you are more valuable to your employer and they really do want to get the best out of you.
“In each placement I receive about 10 hours of 1-to-1 time with my fast stream manager during which we talk purely about my career development and my career needs.
“That level of personal attention is very hard to find at any other employer.”
The London-born ex-lawyer puts job satisfaction and good old-fashioned patriotism at the heart of his decision to join the Civil Service.
“Ultimately I wasn’t getting much job satisfaction. I joined the Fast Stream because the work that civil servants do directly affects the lives of hundreds of thousands, often millions, of people.
“At the moment, I’m working in the Department for Work & Pensions procuring training for jobseekers and working with local employers to match their skills needs with jobseekers that come into a Jobcentre. It might not sound that glamorous but it matters to people’s lives and the lives of their communities.
“I wanted to understand how the country works, I wanted to contribute to the functioning of society, it’s a very prestigious graduate scheme and I now actually make plans and keep them on week nights.”
On some of his posts, Giles has worked with the newly created Crown Commercial Service in Whitehall, set-up by the government to make the UK as commercially successful and “business savvy” as any private sector business.
They saved the UK £10 billion last year and as part of his challenging rotations, Giles could even spend time working in the private sector.
He said: “Have you ever considered how the motorway network, that millions of people use everyday, is funded and managed? Perhaps that’s not your thing. How about the education system? Flood defences? Energy supplies? The health system? All of these areas need commercial knowledge and expertise.
“The variety offered by the Civil Service is mind-boggling, no other career can match it. There is literally everything you can think of and more, and some incredibly “quirky” jobs – I’d love to tell my friends that I was a “space economist”.”
The new Civil Serve Commercial Fast Stream opened last week and is open to applications until 7th April.
Giles said: “There is only one Civil Service and only one government, so the scheme is unique. To advise the government, develop commercial awareness and commercial skills, all at the same time, is a privilege.”