UCL Careers


Ria Ismail

Ria graduated from BA Comparative Literature with Hungarian and Spanish in 2021 and is now a Civil Service Fast Streamer.

University College London alum Ria Ismail.

Tell us about your career path, from graduation to where you are now.

I graduated in June 2021 and started almost right away on the Civil Service Fast Stream in October of that year. I consider myself very lucky to have secured work straight out of university. Whilst my degree has no direct application to my work, the skills I picked up, in particular around communication and planning, definitely helped me secure a spot on the Fast Stream.

What are your core duties and what skills are important to your role?

As a Civil Service Fast Streamer, I have needed to be, above all, resilient and flexible. The scheme moves you around regularly to different postings in new organisations, and sometimes I have needed to advocate for myself to ensure I am getting the right stretch and experience. Doing a degree at UCL prepared me for the focus and organisation I needed to thrive on the scheme.

How did your time at UCL prepare you for the workplace?

Whilst I was at UCL, I managed my academic career as though it were a project. It was that laser-focus on deadlines and deliverables that enabled me to outperform my peers and even land myself on the Dean’s List.  

I was a regular at UCL Careers events – and I found out about the Civil Service Fast Stream through one of these! I attended a few events where Fast Streamers spoke in my first year, and from the first one, I was sold. The only graduate scheme I really wanted was the Fast Stream after that! 

Were there any challenges in your job hunt? How did you overcome these?

Applying to graduate schemes was completely new to me, and it was a steep learning curve with all the psychometric, numerical and verbal reasoning tests. Having UCL Careers and Careers Extra to learn from, whether in group sessions they arranged or a one-to-one with a Careers Consultant, the knowledge and support was invaluable.

Top tips for current students:

  1. Be yourself; but be the best, most professional version of you. 

  2. If applying to the Civil Service Fast Stream, don’t hyperfixate on one particular scheme; go for what’s achievable as you can always shift your career later. 

  3. The Civil Service Fast Stream isn’t the be-all end-all of joining the Civil Service; there are lots of other routes in. 

  4. Build your network in your industry – LinkedIn is your best friend! Most people will be happy to have a quick call and that can be a great foot in the door.