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Edith Cowan University
Waseem studied a Bachelor of Business (double major in accounting and marketing) at the Edith Cowan University (ECU), Perth
What's your job about?
I work as a data analyst in the Operations Management Division. Our team is responsible for supporting the Service Delivery Group (service centres, telephony Smart Centres etc.) by combining business knowledge and data to inform strategic and tactical decision making. We analyse data to help improve efficiencies and deliver directives to help achieve targets. Our branch provides strategy and data to high-level senior executive officers, financial year budgets as well as Senate Estimates and quarterly reviews.
My day-to-day tasks are always changing. I may be working on an analysis project of my own one day and then extracting data for a request from a senior executive level staff member the next. My responsibilities also include creating or updating spreadsheets and programming (writing or amending code).
Upon starting the graduate program I had a good business knowledge of the department but had never learned any programming beforehand. During the program, I was sent to Canberra, Hobart and Brisbane for programming courses. The skill sets I gained have proven to be very valuable and have opened up a great number of opportunities for me moving forward.
What's your background?
I was born and raised in Perth, WA. I was lucky enough to be allowed to stay in Perth for my program, as I was placed in a virtual team with members from all over Australia. Not living in Canberra like most of the other grads, I felt more than accommodated by the graduate team, who flew me over for training and important things such as induction, assessments and graduation. The rest of our meetings and forums were done via videoconferencing.
During my university days, I didn’t really know what I wanted to study or what I was passionate about. I chose a Bachelor of Business as it was a very general degree that would open many different doorways in the future. After changing my majors a couple of times, I ended up doing a double major in accounting and marketing.
In terms of my working experience, I’ve worked in many different roles that have helped shape my portfolio and skill sets over time. I worked in retail, allowing me to build my communication and customer service skills. I’ve worked as an IT officer, allowing me to build on my technical ability. I was lucky enough to have won the position as assistant treasurer for the United Nations Association of Australia, where I built up my accounting skill set. Acting as a proxy to the executive treasurer, I would help run the organisation’s finances and explain the current financial position to the executive board.
I ran my own business for a short period of time, and then started working for the Department of Human Services in Compliance, where I learned an extensive range of technical skill sets. This experience also led to me applying for the graduate program.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, definitely. Prior to starting the graduate program, I had no prior knowledge or experience in programming as my degree was in accounting. I didn’t really enjoy the work experience I did in accounting, and never even thought about becoming an analyst. Being placed in analytics in the program turned out to be a perfect fit for me as I’ve really found my calling. Everything was learned on the job. I think all you need is a decent understanding of how to use software such as Excel, a good understanding of basic maths and a technical mindset.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
What I love most about my job is the strategic thinking behind analytics, as well as the flexibility in our work. If I’m analysing a particular trend and find something of interest, we are encouraged to investigate further if we wish. The work can be challenging at times, but you are always learning something new so it’s a rewarding experience.
What are the limitations of your job?
As there are many different types of data analysis teams in the department, with different responsibilities, I would say a limitation of this field is getting placed in a team with less interesting responsibilities, or in a role where you mostly focus on repetitive tasks on a daily basis.
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give yourself when you were a student?
- Don’t be afraid of failure, as failing lets you learn the most about how you can improve.
- Apply for every opportunity you can, and ask for feedback each time as this can help you improve yourself and make you a better candidate for next time.
- Always choose upskilling yourself over the money. Money can always be made, but diversifying your skill set will open more opportunities in the future.
What's the best thing about the National Graduate Program?
The best thing about the graduate program would have to be the amount of investment they place into you, as well as the skills you learn in the process. In regards to investment, I’m referring to all of the training they facilitate for you, the high-level opportunities you’re provided as a graduate, the travel, networking and the Diploma of Government. The graduate team who is your human resources point of contact was also an amazing team who provided more than enough support.
All in all, the graduate program is a fantastic opportunity that will provide you with a wealth of experience and a sought after skill set, and pave the way for your future career.
What advice would you give current university students interested in applying for the National Graduate Program?
If you’re going to apply for grad programs, my advice is to apply straight out of university. For this program, you’re only eligible to apply within 3 years of graduating. So if you apply in your first year after uni and you’re unsuccessful, you still have time to reapply. Also, in hindsight, I wish I knew how challenging a video interview might be. As it was my first time I was nervous and could’ve prepared more. I would definitely tell myself to over prepare for the video interview.