I joined the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Fast Stream after completing my degree in geography at the University of Dundee. Geography contains more applied statistics than most people think and the statistical assessment centre valued my analysis experience in regression of air temperatures against iceberg numbers and normality testing of water quality – what I am trying to say is you don’t need a background in hard core mathematics to enjoy a job in statistics, all you need is a degree in a numerate subject and enthusiasm for numbers!
When GSS recruitment asked where I’d like my first post to be my only response was “not London”; I don’t like to live in cities as I need regular access to hills or the coast for relaxing long walks. I was offered numerous opportunities outside London – at the Defra office in York, Department for Health in Leeds and also at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in both Titchfield and Newport. I ended up at the ONS in Titchfield which is a village in Hampshire between Southampton and Portsmouth. The location was ideal allowing me to live within walking distance of work and only a 15 minute bike ride to the beach, as well as being close to the New Forest.
My post in ONS was in the Beyond 2011 Programme which is investigating alternative options for producing population and small area socio-demographic data required by users in England and Wales as an alternative to the current traditional census approach. ONS is a great first post for a new statistician as there are multiple opportunities for training to get you up to speed on producing official statistics. I recently completed the Statistical Analyst Scheme provided by the ONS Statistical Training Unit which included modules in data collection, sampling and estimation and disclosure control.
This week I have started my second post on the Fast Stream, a secondment at the Welsh Government in Cardiff in the Flexible Resourcing Team. I chose to go on secondment to gain experience of working more closely with policy and to see how things are done in another department. Being able to move between departments is one of the great benefits of being a fast streamer, especially if you are like me and can’t stay in the same place for very long! I’m still near the countryside with the coast and the Brecon Beacons to explore and I cycle to work along the Taff River, an excellent way to start the day!