Alex Wright

Graduate Intern

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of FCDO Outreach

31st August 2016 London, UK

My First Month at the Foreign Office

I joined the Foreign Office at the beginning of August as a Graduate Intern in the Africa Directorate and to say that I joined at an eventful time would be an understatement: a new Prime Minister, a new Foreign Secretary and two new government departments off the back of June’s Brexit vote (not to forget the introduction of our new feline friend, Palmerston). My first month has been lively and action-packed with a real sense that I’ve been thrown in at the deep end. But I’ve also found myself impressed at the welcoming, inclusive and forward-looking nature of the Foreign Office.

My first week has included more induction courses and meets and greets than I can remember! As well as my fair share of IT problems, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get my head around the countless acronyms and abbreviations. But now I’m settled, I am truly enjoying the sense of responsibility and opportunity on offer. Taking a role in the Africa Directorate at a time when trade deals and development spending are under the microscope has not only been intellectually fascinating but it has created a real sense that I am experiencing a crucial moment in the Foreign Office’s history.

During such a crucial turning point for our foreign relations, it is essential that to be truly global, the Foreign Office must reflect the interests of everyone and bring on board the best and brightest talents. As someone who grew up in a single-parent, working class environment in Yorkshire and became the first in the family to go to university, I have often felt like something of a minority in many workplaces and universities however, I am pleased to say that this is not the case in the Foreign Office. I have met people from the breadth and depth of the country, with a fantastic range of back-stories, academic disciplines and careers which often move away from London-centric and predictable circumstances. It has created a sense that the Foreign Office is open to all and representative of the whole country. Just as we saw with the success of Team GB at the Rio Games, when Britain brings together its best, it can exceed all expectations.

To any young person interested in joining the Foreign Office, I would urge you to have no pre-conceived ideas of how to behave or what to expect. I have found that the Foreign Office values anyone with the motivation to engage with the issues at hand and that being true to yourself and your background will get you far. My idea of what a typical Foreign Office employee would be has already been proven wrong and to me it highlights the effort made to include and represent all people, no matter their background.

I am excited for the opportunities ahead of me at the Foreign Office. At a time of rapidly changing International Relations and with Britain finding its new place in the world, I can only imagine the places I will visit and the people I will meet (I have already had the pleasure of bumping in to the Foreign Secretary in the canteen and exchanging views on the quality of the Fish & Chips). My first month has taught me that as long as I remain forward-thinking and motivated, I shouldn’t underestimate the openings that my time here will bring. Above all else, I am delighted to say that I will do it surrounded by people of talent, who value me for my background and my contributions and who never lose sight of the issues that matter.

3 comments on “My First Month at the Foreign Office

  1. Really nice to read, it’s great that it values diversity. Glad it’s going well for you, the work sounds interesting and challenging. An interesting company.

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