First 3 months contracting

Contract extensions

I've just finished my first 3 months contracting, and have finished on a high by getting an extension for a further 6 months.

I think the extension was always a strong possibility, but it was nice to get the paperwork through. Having been on the other side, I know how difficult hiring and budgets can be for civil servants. So, I'm really grateful for everyone who made it happen.

My recruitment agency are great too. Very quick to respond, and always have time to answer my questions. It's great to feel like there are a few people behind the scenes that I trust to get the paperwork sorted.

Despite all that, getting the extension approved with about a week to go was a little scary. Even though I previously blogged about trusting the process, things did get a little close for comfort.

Luckily I haven't lost sleep over it, which was one of my genuine worries about getting into contracting this time around. I think it's quite normal for approvals to happen like this, and I was kept up to date the whole time.

Previously when I've done freelance work in the past I definitely worried more. The difference this time is that opportunities last months, rather than days or even hours. Which gives a much better sense of security.

Day-to-day interaction design work

Work wise, the honeymoon period is probably over now. The novelty of the new job is fading, but I'm still very much enjoying the work and the opportunity to be more focused on hands-on interaction design work.

I feel like I'm having a positive impact on my team, and I also feel I'm learning lots from them, and the wider department that I'm working with.

I've been able to observe quite a few rounds of remote user research, and there are a couple of opportunities to do on-site research too which would be great to join. I've really missed that. Generally I love working from home for all sorts of reasons, but I do miss the occasional (every 2 weeks?) trip on the train.

I'm very much loving being back in central government, and being able to use the GOV.UK Prototype Kit. The team behind it seem to be making some great improvements at the moment.

I've also enjoying being (a little bit more) active on the cross-government Slack. If you're not aware, this recent post by Steve Messer is a great intro: How to use cross-government Slack.

It's great to see some familiar faces working hard to make the community what it is. Such as these posts I spotted via the prolific Vicky Teinaki