Probably a bit late, but in case anyone else has the same question:I have a conditional offer for a job in the Civil Service. It seems a good job to me on paper, with plenty of scope to pursue what interests me (wishful thinking). I was very surprised how accommodating they seemed at the welcome meeting, as I've never worked in any similar role or industry even. After I get the qualifications tied to the role, it should open up doors which I'd like to investigate. If it's disappointing I should be able to leave after a few years for the private sector.
There seems to be a lot of experience with the Civil Service on this site and very little said is positive. Is it that bad? I don't know anyone in so if anyone has any serious advice etc, I'd be keen to hear.
There isn't really such a coherent thing as "the Civil Service", although obviously on paper it is a coherent category of job so far as HMRC are concerned. Being a provincial secretary =/= a Porton Down scientist =/= a Whitehall mandarin =/= an SIS case officer. Even within Whitehall, some departments are more interchangeable and others (e.g. Foreign Office) have a more unique and bespoke path. Obviously there are some common features (standardised pay grades) but you should be well aware of those, so that shouldn't count as good or bad: it's the price you compare with good or bad, to work out whether the whole package is worthwhile.
Moreover, there isn't really such a coherent thing as a civil servant (or applicant) so what seems awful to some will clearly seem better to others. Either you know whether that applies to you, or if you are young, you have yet to find out and doing it over here is probably equivalent to doing it over there, all other things being equal.
As you say, it isn't a prison sentence or life contract, so really the question is will this job suit you, and nobody on here is going to give you a better answer to that, than you can to yourself.