From English degree to a Finance career via Civil Service Fast Stream

King’s Careers blog has the pleasure of featuring guest blogger and KCL alumna Amber, a current Civil Service Fast Streamers to talk about her experience so far in the programme! Read on to find out how she got onto the programme as an English graduate and what everyday life looks like as a Finance Fast Streamer. 

Image of Amber smiling

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an award-winning leadership development programme, developing people from a wide range of backgrounds who have the potential to become future senior leaders. They offer a choice of 15 schemes, each within a profession, and the opportunity to contribute to fast-paced work that makes a difference to the whole of society.

Amber is a recent graduate from KCL and studied BA English. During her time at King’s, she had lots of great opportunities including studying abroad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and working as a student ambassador in the KCL Pre-University Summer School. When she graduated in summer 2018, she was excited to take on a new challenge – starting the Civil Service Fast Stream programme.


What interested you to apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream Programme?

The Civil Service is consistently ranked as one of the top employers in the UK, and their flagship programme for graduates is the Fast Stream. I knew about their strong reputation but was curious to know what life is like on the programme, so I reached out to a friend (also a KCL student) who did the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme at the Department of Transport. She had a great experience and was impressed with the efforts the Civil Service makes to be an inclusive employer as well as the opportunities to work on high-profile, challenging projects. When I started my third year, I did my own research and saw that many of the schemes offer support to undertake professional qualifications. A chance to make a difference at work whilst continuing my studies was an opportunity, I couldn’t turn down.


Why did you apply for the Finance programme?

Finance is at the heart of decision-making in government. As a Finance Fast Streamer, you experience a wide variety of roles across the Finance profession and guide teams to deliver high-quality project outcomes that represent value for money. Finance Fast Streamers have a high level of responsibility at an early stage, but no two jobs are the same. The programme is also unique because you are offered a choice of accountancy qualifications to undertake and will be a qualified finance professional by the time you finish the scheme.


How do you balance work and your studies?

Accountancy qualifications are recognised across the world, but the governing bodies aim to protect the integrity of their certifications, which means that the exams can be challenging. The Civil Service supports Fast Streamers to do their best in the exams, so we take study-leave to attend college. All Fast Streamers have a Talent Development Manager during their time on the scheme who supports and encourages them as they go through the Fast Stream and is the first port of call if you have any concerns about your studies. The flexibility and support offered by the Civil Service means that I can fit my studies in around work with few difficulties.


What does a typical Finance Fast Streamer look like?

There’s no such thing as a typical Fast Streamer – just as every Fast Stream journey is unique, everyone who joins the programme brings their own strengths and experiences to the role. I had limited experience of working in finance before joining the Civil Service, but I’ve quickly built up my skill sets by undertaking two work placements in 18 months. Many students think that you need a Business or a STEM degree to apply for jobs in finance, but the Civil Service encourages applications from people with all sorts of experiences. Some of my colleagues in the scheme have prior experience of working in finance, but many do not and that is not a barrier to success.


How do the skills you gained from studying English help you in your job in Finance?
What advice would you give to potential applicants?

My current role as a Finance Business Partner means that I prepare reports to stakeholders with varying levels of financial experience. Each month, I talk them through their finances and provide support wherever it is needed. Strong written and verbal communication skills as well as the ability to build relationships are highly valued in this role. Studying English at King’s was great training for this role because it helped me to become a confident communicator.

The Fast Stream is a leadership development programme, so even if you don’t think you have the right experience for a role, still submit an application, you may be surprised. The Fast Stream looks for leadership potential, and if you can show that you’re willing to learn, then there’s every chance that you will be offered a place on a scheme.


Have questions? Your KCL ambassadors are here to answer your questions. Join the KCL Fast Stream Ambassadors Facebook group.
You can pre-register your interest for the Fast Stream application window in the Autumn now via Fast Stream’s website.
Photo by James Newcombe on Unsplash