Kate Jennings ANSTO Graduate

Kate Jennings

University of Melbourne
ANSTO Graduate, Nuclear Security
Kate studied Bachelor of Arts at University of Melbourne

What's your job about?

ANSTO is the custodian of Australia’s landmark infrastructure, and uses nuclear science to benefit industry, people and the environment. My present role at ANSTO is within the Nuclear Security, Government and International Affairs team. This group is responsible for coordinating ANSTO’s engagements with stakeholders locally and abroad, including in international forums. As the centre of Australia’s nuclear expertise, the nature of the work done in this team is extremely dynamic due to the wide-ranging requests and matters that ANSTO is involved with.

My role has included writing briefs to relevant government officials and departments, contributing to treaties progressing through necessary legislative processes and the provision of assistance and support to internal staff including the CEO. An exciting project I was involved with recently was an ANSTO submission and appearance before a Parliamentary Inquiry in Canberra on the topic of supporting Australia’s young workforce into taking up careers that are focused on innovation and creation.  

I have been involved with a variety of unique opportunities including attendance at a number of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conferences. The IAEA is the preeminent intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the field of nuclear, and it has thus been an extremely valuable experience for me to engage with the international nuclear network. The conferences I have attended are based on thought-provoking topics; including how nuclear technologies and science can be used to resolve challenges faced by Small Island Developing States, Asia Pacific regional cooperation in monitoring marine radioactivity releases from nuclear facilities, and an international workshop on planning and cost estimation for decommissioning. 

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Melbourne, and completed my Bachelor of Arts with a double major in International Politics and Media & Communications at the University of Melbourne. I undertook a semester abroad at Rutgers in New Jersey, where I studied subjects including American foreign policy and conflict resolution with professors that had respectively worked with the U.S. Department of Defense and the United Nations. I became strongly involved with Model UN and had the chance to engage with representatives of the Iranian Mission to the UN in New York.

Previously I worked for four and a half years at the Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club - a job that spanned across numerous departments including membership, communications, corporate, game day and events, ticketing and community. I have also previously worked with Engage Education as a contributing writer and at Medibank Private as a member advocacy consultant. Last year, I volunteered with UN Youth Victoria in a human resources role, and currently do volunteer work for UN Online Volunteering.

My successful experience in America gave me the confidence to seek out opportunities that were outside my comfort zone and I thus applied for the ANSTO Graduate Program. I was successful in entering this program and have since moved to Sydney where I began working at ANSTO in February 2017. I have been incredibly grateful to be working with a fantastic group of people within the graduate program and at ANSTO.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

The team I work within presently has employees with a range of different backgrounds, which is beneficial considering the wide breadth of responsibilities that we are tasked with. As such, there is certainly possibility for someone with a technical background for instance to work in this role with some training and guidance on how to navigate the processes and sensitivities of this role.

The most valuable characteristics necessary would be to have strong time management skills in order to respond to unexpected and often tight deadlines, the capacity to work well within a team, to communicate effectively and the ability to be resilient and flexible.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is the scale of the projects I have been able to work on, and the number of people from different backgrounds I get to engage with. The ability to discuss and interact with researchers, government officials and international representatives has given me the opportunity to broaden my scope of learning. It also reminds me of the wider network of people from ANSTO and across the globe who are seeking to create a better future through science and technology. 

What are the limitations of your job?

This job requires a great deal of resilience as you must be able to respond to unexpected circumstances, have the capacity to work to short deadlines and manage expectations of a variety of stakeholders internally and externally. This can at times be frustrating and stressful, but it is an inherent part of being the custodian of nuclear expertise in Australia. This job and the challenges that come with it are ultimately a valuable learning experience as it provides one with the opportunity to develop both professionally and personally.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Take every single opportunity that is offered to you, and if there is nothing – go out and find it. This may be an old adage, but get involved with what you can and enjoy yourself.   
  • Procrastinate in small doses. I have come up with some creative excuses to avoid particular assessments in my time, however be reasonable. The extra stress of leaving things to the last minute is often not worth it.
  • No matter what you want, don’t be afraid to make it happen. Don’t let other people’s or your own expectations and prejudices stop you from pursuing what you want to achieve.