People Stories

Find below some stories and testimonies from our current graduates.

Testimonial 1 - Madihah

Before joining the GDP, I was working as a Community Mental Health Nurse. I loved my job but after a few years, I decided to look for other developmental opportunities that either focussed on research on leadership development. That’s when I came across the GDP.

Up until that point, I had never considered a career with the Scottish Government. I never thought it would be a realistic option for someone like me. I had this assumption that the majority of the people who worked for the government were all highly intelligent, eloquently spoken, posh people from stable backgrounds. The complete opposite of me!

But, I was drawn to the focus on recruiting diverse people and the focus on leadership development.  I was also excited about the  possibility of working on policies that could positively impact the people in Scotland.

Within a few months of working in SG, I knew  I had made the right career choice and that this was the exciting developmental challenge I was looking for. Not only does the programme focus on leadership development, but I have also been able to apply my love for research in each post I’ve worked in so far.

My initial apprehensions about not belonging in a place like the Scottish Government, quickly vanished. I found that the Scottish Government was truly working hard on creating an inclusive workplace culture, where people are valued for their unique perspectives, skills and talents that  they bring.

I have always been very passionate about tackling race and equality issues  and I feel very proud that I have been able to continue this work within the Scottish Government. This includes work that I have done with my fellow cohort members and through supporting the Scottish Government Staff Networks.

My past experiences, my difficult childhood, my disability and my ethnic background are a true reflection of so many people’s lives in Scotland. I might not fit what I thought was the norm in government, but that’s a good thing – not only in my eyes, but in the organisations eyes as well.

My current role involves supporting the independent review of adult social care. My life experiences, brings about a different perspective which are highly valued by the team. I am constantly mindful and encouraging others to think about the inequalities faced by minority groups when it comes to social care.

The Scottish Governments goal is to make  Scotland a healthier, fairer and prosperous place for all, but in  order to do this effectively our workforce needs to be diverse and reflect our society.

So for anyone who is considering applying, my biggest advice to you is be proud of what makes you different.  Your unique  insight and experiences will be valued here and will help our goal in making Scotland a prosperous place for all!


Testimonial 2 - Neil

When I applied for the GDP, I was already on a grad programme with a global bank. I’d realised that finance wasn’t for me, and wanted to do something which I found more personally fulfilling. Government work also seemed to be a better fit with the analytical skillset which I’d developed whilst completing my Masters in History. I was interested in politics, and although I didn’t really have a clue what the civil service was or how government worked, I knew I wanted to be at the sharp end.

During my time in government so far, I’ve worked in Community Justice, and the First Minister’s Policy and Delivery Unit. The number of different areas of public policy that I’ve had a chance to work on never ceases to amaze me, and I really do think that this breadth of experience is one of the real strengths of the GDP. I’ve been lucky to work with so many dedicated, knowledgeable staff, who are always happy to answer a silly question (or two, in my case!).

The GDP has a strong emphasis on developing leadership, which I find really valuable. The postings are designed to stretch you and encourage you to become a more confident, competent civil servant. Whereas a lot of big corporations like to hire small armies of grads to plug gaps or to meet other business needs, the GDP recruits a smaller cohort. This allows the talent team to get to know you, align postings to your needs, and really invest in you. The support from the GDP management team is invaluable. As I’m relatively early in my career, it’s so reassuring to know that there’s people who’ve got your back, and who are happy to offer guidance and insight – whatever your issue might be. In contrast to my previous job, there’s a structured personal development pathway running alongside the time you spend ‘on the job’. This is designed to develop and refine your leadership skills – combine that with the experience you gain from the mix of postings, and you come out of the programme well equipped to seize the many opportunities available in the Scottish Government.

Testimonial 3 - Hannah

Immediately on reading the GDP advert I knew I wanted to apply. I had been working as a contractor for a non-departmental public body for a few years after finishing my PhD, and was keen to get a permanent role in the public sector. I was attracted to the GDP because of the wide variety of potential roles available and the defined career path and development opportunities it offered.

As a neurodiverse person I did have a few concerns about the application process and felt a bit anxious about the prospect of the standardised screening tests. I decided to get in contact with the ‘talent team’ to raise my concerns and discuss the reasonable adjustments available. They were very helpful, and were able to put in place adjustments for the screening tests and then for the assessment centre. If you are interested in applying and have similar concerns I would encourage you to get in contact with the team and find out what support can be put in place.

The GDP involves six job changes in four years and the rotations are intended to expose you to new and challenging roles rather than to focus on your existing interests, current strengths or previous experience. The programme allows you to grow into each successive post and to keep an eye on your future goals. There is an emphasis on reflection and consideration your experiences and what you can learn from them. It is a long-term commitment but if you are interested in pursuing a career with the Scottish Government, and content to commit to regularly moving posts, then I would recommend registering interest and contacting the team should you have any further questions.

Testimonial 4 - Graham

I applied for the GDP looking for a career change, having previously worked in academia for a number of years as a research scientist. Working in a laboratory and being more used to equations than governmental policy, I was initially sceptical that the GDP would be for me – not to mention that a number of years had passed since I gained my undergraduate degree. However, since joining the civil service and working in a number of different policy areas I know now that these concerns are unfounded. People in the GDP and, more broadly, the civil service come from a wide variety of career backgrounds and it’s by no means just those that studied politics, economics or other fields you would perhaps first associate with government. I’ve been pleased to meet and work with other scientists that have also moved into government and brought their experiences and knowledge with them. The civil service is made up of a diverse array of people who each bring something different to the table and this diversity is one of its strongest assets. The term “Graduate Development Programme” can give the impression that it’s for those that are freshly out of university, but the reality is the programme cohort is made up of all types: those recently graduated, those that have been in work for years and everything else in between.

Since joining, I’ve worked in a wide range of policy areas including climate change, digital economy and primary care. One of the advantages of the GDP is that you get the opportunity to spend time working across the breadth of the organisation and in many different roles. This provides you with a broad understanding of the work done throughout government but also gives you the chance to find out what sort of work you find most interesting as well as testing and stretching your abilities and understanding in different competencies.

It’s not unusual to work to tight deadlines or have to juggle numerous important or sensitive tasks, but I’ve found my time in the Scottish Government both enjoyable and rewarding and have no regrets about my change in career.