It's fast, challenging and mentally stimulating. That's the life of a fast stream entrant at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Fast streamers (grade C4) are part of the wider Civil Service Scheme managed by the Cabinet Office.
Join the FCO as a Fast Streamer and you’ll be exposed to it all. Your first two years will be in London where you’ll spend one year doing policy work such as handling our relations with other countries, dealing with security and defence issues or working to improve human rights abroad, then one year doing service delivery work such as working in our consular department helping distressed British nationals.
Fast streamers in the FCO usually follow their first two years in London with an overseas posting.
A recent Fast Stream entrant descibes her first 2 years in the office:
"When I told my family and friends I had joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, their reaction, apart from to say well done, was to ask what I would actually be doing. I think, having been in the Office for two years and about to go on my first overseas posting to Islamabad, that I can finally answer that question!
I arrived on 18th October 2007 to do my induction training, nervous and not knowing what to expect. I had come from working as Private Secretary to two Secretaries of State and three Ministers in a range of other Government Departments, but that didn’t get help my butterflies. From that day, I can honestly say I have (almost) enjoyed every minute. My first job was in Europe Directorate, working on Economic and Financial Policy. My first reaction was of complete dismay as I knew nothing about the European Union, or economic policy.
However once I had done a bit of training and met my colleagues I was soon drafting briefing for the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister for the European Council (which happen four times a year). Just as I began to think I had got my head around an interesting area of policy with real impact on the way the world works, something called ‘the credit crunch’ happened. As the lead officer within the FCO on the EU aspects of the financial crisis, I had an exhilarating if occasionally terrifying year, from advising the Treasury on how the Chancellor’s plans for reform would play in Europe, to writing the briefing on the credit crunch for every single Ambassador across our global network working with the FCO Chief Economist. I also found time to travel around Europe, got to know Brussels and ate some amazing moules-frites, brushed up my French, joined the Diversity Group, became a mentor, and a fully trained interviewer.
I am now nearing the last weeks of my second year in a completely different job. For the last year I have been head of the Middle East and Africa Consular Team. This means that my 7 person team and I advise posts around the region on how to help British nationals in trouble overseas, and are the support workers for their family and friends in the UK. From meeting families who have recently lost someone in a terrorist attack, advising the Ambassador to Iraq how to handle the serious allegations of mistreatment made by a British national to talking to someone whose son has been in prison in Africa for thirty years about what kind of socks they should send them, this job is never ever dull and always fulfilling. I have enjoyed it enormously, precisely because it is so different and also because it means I can see the work I do when I receive thank you letters from those we have helped – or the occasional bunch of flowers – which mean we are actually making a difference to peoples’ lives at a time when they are most vulnerable.
I would advise anyone to work for the FCO and frequently do. What we do is important – from helping individual British nationals to trying to make the world a safer place. None of this is easy, but that’s the best part of the job – the challenge of making change happen – big and small. You will work with some of the brightest people around, and working alongside them is one of the things I have enjoyed most about the jobs I have done so far. I have friends all over the world and know that they will remain so for a long time to come.
As with any large organisation, with a lot of history to it, there are frustrations – the number of emails can be ridiculous! - but these are far outweighed by the benefits of a career which offers travel, excellent training and development, endless variety, and the chance to change things which really matter. "
The starting salary for a Fast Streamer is £27,000 (inclusive of a £3,000 London Location Allowance – payable when working in London).
Applicants must have at least a 2.2 degree in any subject and meet our nationality and residency requirements.