Personal Assistant

One of the things that really appealed to me was that you’re only expected to stay in a specific post for about three years. This means there are vast career opportunities available to work across various business areas. There’s also a structured grading system, so you can see a clear path for progression. The recruitment process was long, but I was well prepared because you’re given plenty of warning at each stage of the application process. The vetting can feel quite intrusive, but you realise that it has to be like that due to the nature of our work. And again, you get plenty of notice and guidance on what to expect. As a PA, there’s a perception that every day will be pretty much the same. But here I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of different pieces of work. For example, I’ve written a brief that ended up being included in the briefing pack of one of the Director Generals; I’ve delivered a presentation to new entrants; I’ve taken the minutes for a formal case hearing; and I’ve travelled to other sites to meet colleagues. I’ve also had more training opportunities than I’ve ever had in any other organisation. In fact, development’s very much encouraged and the department’s open to you attending training that will have long-term benefits, as well as immediate advantages. There are also lots of internal conferences and seminars where you can learn about other areas of the business. You have a lot of flexibility too, whether adjusting a job to part time or job share, adopting unusual working hours, or working flexi days. When I first joined, I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in, because I don’t have a background in technology, maths or engineering. But not everyone who works here is a technological guru and there are just as many jobs and opportunities for non-technical people. It does take a while to get used to working in different ways because of security restrictions. For example, you don’t have easy access to external email or the internet. There are also lots of different passwords for various systems, and you need to lock absolutely everything away at night in secure cupboards – including the rubbish bin!

Departments and Roles at GCHQ