Including autism in the Civil Service
I graduated with a Sociology degree from Surrey University in 2020. As well as being autistic I also have a physical disability, hemiplegia. This meant I prioritised my education, so I had very limited work experience. Consequently, the transition from education to work was daunting as I didn’t know what to expect or what I might be capable of.
I am interested in a career where I can make an impact on others’ lives so when I learnt about the Civil Service Autism Exchange Internship Programme, I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain valuable work experience in a supported situation; this proved true.
My role in the team at the Civil Service
My role was as a Counter Fraud and Compliance Support Officer intern in the Risk and Compliance team within the Building Digital UK (BDUK) Directorate in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). I was tasked with creating an activity with the potential to be included in counter fraud and compliance engagement sessions to get wider BDUK colleagues thinking like a fraudster!
I enjoyed researching existing provision, consulting with colleagues, and devising an interactive activity that met the brief. I presented my concept to the team and received positive and encouraging feedback that my idea will be used. I also contributed to BDUK’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, by undertaking adjustments of voucher values to combat against fraud. This required me to get up to speed rapidly with the tracking system and pay careful attention to detail.
Diversity in the workplace
Although my internship was remote, I felt well supported and received encouraging and helpful advice from my line manager and team. I appreciated the chance to get into the London office for a day! It was great to meet some of my team in person and to experience office life. The normalisation of remote working due to the pandemic is beneficial as that day tired me out so it’s great to have the flexibility.
One challenge I faced was a delay in the arrival of my IT until the start of my second week. Consequently, I couldn’t fully start my tasks. However, in the end this worked in my favour as my internship was extended to a month.
The diverse culture of DCMS and the wider Civil Service was really encouraging. I learnt about the Ability Network and the Gender Equality Network, and joined mental health drop ins. Other highlights included virtually meeting other DCMS interns and events such as a networking skills session and a MOD International Crisis Scenario Workshop!
Feeling grateful for the Autism Exchange programme
The internship was a great first experience of the world of work! It was extremely enjoyable, insightful, and invaluable in building my confidence and resilience. I went from being really nervous about arranging meetings to organising and conducting them myself and giving a presentation.
I’ve really valued the opportunity to experience day-to-day life of a civil servant and to make a positive contribution. The opportunity gave me an idea of what reasonable adjustments I can ask for, a question that I always found hard to answer on job applications. Everybody I interacted with was extremely welcoming, accepting and accommodating. I’m so grateful that the Autism Exchange Programme exists, and strongly recommend it! I can’t believe how quickly it all went.
About the author
Emily Luck is a graduate from Surrey University with a Sociology degree in 2020. She also is autistic and has a physical disability called Hemiplegia.
- Apply for a paid internship today
- Include Autism resources
- Read what Aishah has to say on advocating for your autistic needs
- Read about Georgia's advice on explaining your autistic needs.