Do you think working in the Civil Service has given you a good skillset that you could transfer over to other EA career paths?
Great question- I think this is particularly important because a lot of the value from government jobs comes later in your career, so if you are unsure it is a good fit, you particularly want to be gaining transferrable skills. I haven’t worked in other EA career paths, which limits my insight a bit, but here’s my best bet:Yes, I think it has given me a good (not excellent) skillset.
Working on policy questions gives good research skills- I’ve become skilled at digesting complex information from a range of sources, figuring which elements are relevant to the question I’m answering, and condensing them in to a clearly communicated recommendation. Frustratingly though, my work is usually too confidential to showcase this.
You get good experience of communicating why something matters. There are a million important issues a department deals with- being able to explain to others the importance of your area, and why it should be funded/worked on/discussed in meetings is a useful skill in the civil service and for e.g. spreading EA ideas or attracting fundraising.
I’ve practiced a lot of operations skills- setting up meetings or workshops, booking venues, managing competing deadlines and staying organised. I’ve gained management skills. I’ve gained recruiting experience (which is a bit civil-service-y but probably fairly transferrable). All these skills would be widely applicable, particularly if working at a non-profit.
I’ve been involved for a while in the UK government’s forecasting efforts- great for picking up forecasting skills!
However, you also spend a fair amount of time/energy learning how to work with the system- like how different government departments work together (including international governments), how information is shared in the civil service, how ministers like to have information prepared. I think these skills are less transferrable, so take up time you could be learning something else. I guess there are parallels here with most careers that aren’t directly relevant to other EA career paths. But I’d guess doing research on something non-EA related would be more transferrable to in-depth EA research than policy on something EA related.
I’d be interested if others have thoughts to add- this is a plug for fellow civil servants to chip in!