Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Apprentice

Guest blogger for FCDO Careers

Part of Our Apprenticeship Schemes

5th February 2021 United Kingdom

Matthew: My Apprenticeship during COVID-19

Matthew is a L4 Business Administration Apprentice at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Why I chose to do an apprenticeship with the FCDO.

A common criticism of university is that it doesn’t prepare graduates with the necessary practical experience to operate in the world of work. For me, an apprenticeship at the FCDO offered the opportunity to take advantage of the theoretical knowledge I gained at university, and develop real practical experience within the confines of a supported apprenticeship programme.

How did COVID-19 impact on your apprenticeship and how have you managed to overcome the barriers?

My experience of working in the main office in King Charles Street, London lasted a very enjoyable three weeks before our team transitioned fully to working from home!

During that period, there were three key challenges that I had to overcome.

Firstly, I found there were reduced informal opportunities to chat and network with colleagues across the office. I overcame this barrier by engaging in the Civil Service Coffee Connect, our internal directorate Coffee Connect, actively engaging with the team on a daily basis and setting up a book club to think and discuss the themes surrounding the proliferation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Secondly, COVID-19 brought changes to the way training on the apprenticeship programme took place. Keeping up a strong line of communication with my colleagues, talent coach and the apprenticeship team ensured that I was up-to-date on recent developments.

Finally, my portfolio significantly shifted towards crisis work when COVID forced us home in March, this impacted my ability to complete my apprenticeship assignments. I managed to overcome this challenge by honestly communicating my extenuating circumstances to my crisis work team leader early on in the process. This allowed the team to plan around and secure resilience to fill the gap for one day a week.

How have you adjusted to working from home during lockdown and in managing your apprenticeship?

My day can vary substantially. One day I may be supporting the delivery of briefing for an upcoming bilateral engagement for one of our Ministerial team, and the next day delivering a project on technology and innovation to internal and external stakeholders. What grounds my week is the time I get to spend reflecting and working on completing my apprenticeship assignments, meeting with my FCDO Mentor and cementing my understanding through training sessions provided by the apprenticeship learning provider.

Three words to describe ‘working for the FCDO’.

Agile, Interesting, but most importantly, Kind.

Why I would recommend doing an apprenticeship with the FCDO.

The FCDO apprenticeship scheme is a fantastic way to work for a government department that often can be extremely challenging to get a foot into the door. Working at the FCDO is often at incredible pace so having a huge support network centred around the Apprenticeship team gives me the highly valuable space to, step back, reflect and figure out how I want to develop my skills.

Learn more about our Apprenticeship schemes.