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Sophie - advice
Name: Sophie
PhD discipline: French
Area(s) of work: Parliament; civil service
Year of graduation: 2004
Date of Interview: 03/06/2008

Now Playing: Sophie - advice
Sophie gives advice to anyone thinking of a civil service career, and reflects on the value of her PhD in her work context.

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If you were giving advice to somebody who's doing a PhD and thinking about going through the Fast Stream civil service recruitment process, what would you say to them? 

I would say that if you're not sure, it's always worth doing it because it is such a long process that if you change your mind half way through, if you decide two months down the line that you did want to do it, you're going to have to wait quite a long time until the next round. So it's always worth starting off with it and then if you get through great. If you don't get through you know that's pretty much ruled out for you. And there are quite a diversity of jobs within that structure of recruitment so it's worth looking at all of the different streams within the Fast Stream, to think about which one you might actually be more interested in rather than just going down to the central departments route that the bulk of people do go for.

I think in terms of this particular job there are quite a few people who have PhDs who do it. They do open days and they do outreach to universities and there are lots of people who are quite keen to go and tell people about it. If anyone was seriously interested in doing this exact job, it's not hard to find someone to talk to, just go and have coffee with and tell you about what it involves. More generally, I think, possibly one thing that I've learnt since doing my PhD is that I was so focused on the subject of the research and thinking that eighteenth century French is not applicable to any kind of job, then I'm just chucking this away if I leave academia but that's not really the case. You do get a lot more out of it than just the subject that you're studying and that is valued more than I thought it would be by certain employers. It's not hopeless if you're not interested in carrying on in academia, it's not like you have to start again from before you started your PhD.

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