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University of Wollongong
Handuni studied a Bachelor of Medical and Health Science at the University of Wollongong
What's your job about?
The Department of Human Services is a service delivery agency. It is responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provides access to social, health and other payments and services. Within the department, I work in the Multicultural and Rural Programmes Branch in a program team for Farm Household Allowance and Status Resolution Support Service. As a data analytics graduate, my responsibilities are to respond to all data requests that come in and provide an in-depth analysis of the information required.
I have been able to use many of the skills I gained at university, including my research and statistical background, and my understanding of human behaviour in my day-to-day work.
A typical day consists of providing figures and analysis to the Minister, Prime Minister and Cabinet for new policy proposals. This is one of the most exciting parts of the job as I get to fully inform decision makers regarding the service delivery aspect and help build evidence-based policy.
Innovation is key and every day I am challenged to think outside the box to come up with innovative ways to better deliver programs and services to all Australians. This involves a collaborative approach, where I get to work with some smart, engaging people who also have the same vision and are passionate about delivering the best possible outcome for Australia.
What's your background?
I grew up in Queensland, but I’ve moved around quite a bit during my lifetime. Before I moved to Canberra, I was living in Sydney. I think moving has been a great experience for me as I’ve learned to adapt to many different situations. It has given me the ability to meet a lot of amazing people along the way.
I completed my primary schooling in Queensland and my intermediate years in New Zealand. I lived in two places over two years in New Zealand, first Auckland and then Rotorua. I completed high school in Rockhampton, QLD and then moved to Wollongong, NSW to commence university. I studied a Bachelor of Medical and Health Science at the University of Wollongong. During uni, I was a tutor and I completed my certification in make-up artistry. Soon after completion of my certification, I worked as a retail make-up artist for a well renowned make-up brand and then went on to start up my own freelance make-up business. These gigs gave me real insights into good customer service. Running my own small business further developed my organisational skills. It taught me how to tailor services to each customer’s needs and successfully manage and market the business as well, which proved to be of use in my current role.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, I definitely think someone with a different background could do my job. The department offers various internal, external and on-the-job training programs, which will give you opportunities to learn specific data analytics skills in order to excel in the job. For example, I completed SAS programming training recently through an external provider, which gave me the chance to further enhance my analytical capabilities.
Even though it is helpful to have a background understanding and subject matter expertise of the work that is done, I think it is essential to possess more transferable skills such as adaptability, the ability to work well under pressure and good communication skills.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I think the coolest thing about my job would have to be the fact that the information I provide to stakeholders or the Minister’s Office is genuinely making a difference in people’s lives and that the data is used for the betterment of policy and program delivery. At the Department of Human Services, our key focus is the customer experience, and data analytics plays a crucial role in improving of the services we provide.
What are the limitations of your job?
One limitation is that at certain times of the year, it will push you to work under pressure. Especially prior to Senate Estimates, there is a huge inflow of data requests that will need to be responded to in a short period. This will require you to efficiently gather the relevant information in an accurate and methodical manner.
However, the strong sense of support, where people are always willing to lend a hand if a question arises, helps overcome any high-pressure situation you are placed under. This culture of collaboration is just one of the reasons why I love working at the department.
What are three pieces of advice you would give yourself when you were a student?
- Get as much experience as possible! University is the perfect opportunity to try out new things – new sports or societies, charity work or different roles and responsibilities in a project or team. The breadth of opportunities available at university means it is a great setting to try new things and give yourself a masterclass in what makes you tick.
- Meet as many people as you can. University is a networker’s dream. The idea of networking, or what it entails, might not be the most appealing thing to you, however, building your network through friends and acquaintances that do different things will stand you in fantastic stead for your career.
- Do what you enjoy doing! It sounds obvious, but doing what you enjoy is an important use of your time at university. Finding activities that motivate and stimulate you, whether it be playing for a certain team, or leading a favourite society, is a great way of better understanding what you might look for in a career.
What's the best thing about the National Graduate Program?
In my opinion, I cannot choose just one “best thing” about the National Graduate Program. There are so many opportunities. Not only will you get some amazing on-the-job training, but you will also get a chance to listen to Senate Estimates live at Parliament House, which is definitely something not everyone can say they’ve done in their lifetime!
The outbound experience, which is unique to the Department of Human Services National Graduate Program, would have to be one of the highlights from my graduate year. This gave me the chance to interact with the department’s dedicated frontline staff and see government service delivery in action – definitely an eye-opening experience!
There are also networking events across the whole of the Australian Public Service (APS), which are a great way to get to know your peers and form not only professional but life-long connections.
I am currently a part of the Graduate Data Network Steering Committee, which is a network that was established to drive cultural change with data across the whole of government. We work very closely with the Data Champions Network, Deputy Secretaries Data Group and Secretaries Data Group (all comprising Senior Executive Service staff within the APS) to plan and implement new strategies to drive that change. This is just one of the incredible opportunities I have been given as a data analytics graduate through the National Graduate Program. I encourage you to take all opportunities with open arms – you never know where it could lead you!
What advice would you give current university students interested in applying for the National Graduate Program?
If you are passionate about learning more about how social policy is implemented to improve the lives all Australians no matter where they are, then the Department of Human Services graduate program is the program for you! You’ll get unlimited opportunities to harness your existing skills and knowledge and to further develop and learn new skills that will add value to not only your role within the department but even to your day-to-day life. With flexible work conditions, development opportunities and the ability to make a real difference in people’s lives, the Human Services graduate program is incomparable.
My advice to anyone thinking of applying to the program is to ‘just do it’! See if your degree fits into one of the professional pathways and apply for both generalist and professional. This will provide you with double the chance of being selected. It is important not to overthink the whole application process. Be yourself and let your personality shine through in the interview. All the staff at the assessment centres are extremely accommodating. Remember, all the candidates are in the same boat as you. Also, despite it being a half day process, you can actually make some friends who you might later meet on your first day of the graduate program! So take the opportunity to mingle, network, build new connections and stay connected – you will definitely meet some inspiring people from all walks of life!