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Non-legal work experience opportunities – Civil Service summer internship

Non-legal work experience opportunities – Civil Service summer internship

Ibrahim Ilyas


Gaining non-legal work experience is key to a well-rounded profile. Some legal opportunities may not provide the experiences that, say, working in a public sector organisation can offer, and so it is helpful to develop through undertaking non-legal work experience. The Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) is a prestigious summer internship aiming to offer students from a diverse range of backgrounds the opportunity to see what a career in the Civil Service is like. It puts talented undergraduates and graduates on a work placement in a government department. As a successful applicant, you’ll get an insight into the broad range of opportunities available across the Civil Service.

The SDIP is a great way to prepare for a place on the Fast Stream graduate programmes, which could lead to many different career paths at the heart of the UK government. Still, for those focused on a legal career, experience as an SDIP intern could have a very positive impact on your future and profile! 

What do interns experience?

On the internship you’ll do challenging project-related work. You could be:

  • conducting research;
  • providing project support;
  • assisting with the creation of policy documents;
  • shadowing senior civil servants;
  • attending meetings with senior advisors on major issues;

The support you get includes:

  • an allocated Fast Stream buddy and a scheme manager to support and oversee you;
  • an excellent range of central events for you to attend, such as crisis management sessions, school mentoring and parliamentary visits;
  • a corporate welcome reception in early June and a closing reception in September involving high-profile speakers;
  • access to ‘Fast Pass’ which potentially allows you to be fast-tracked to the final stages of the Fast Stream selection process; and
  • the opportunity of a place on a coaching programme designed to increase your chances of successfully passing the Fast Stream selection process.

Such experience would be invaluable to a law student seeking a successful career within law. The opportunity to get tangible, ‘hands-on’ experience in areas such as policy and ministerial work is undeniably attractive to firms and chambers. 

Being firmly committed to a Civil Service career is not a requirement for this placement so it is ideal for law students wishing to consider all career options, particularly those within the public sector. To check your eligibility, please go to the Civil Service SDIP website page. 

The internship is naturally competitive as are all graduate careers. With regards to tackling the Civil Service online tests, practise the official mock tests. Beyond this, my advice is simply to sell yourself. Show why YOU should be offered a placement and why such an experience would assist you in the future but also how you could contribute to the important work of the Civil Service. 

Good luck!

I was successful in applying for a placement this summer, starting in July based in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and will be blogging about my experiences soon. Watch this space!