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Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

  • #2 in Government & public services
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Alison Shemon

Alison studied Bachelor of Business and Commerce at Western Sydney University and is now working as Tax Technical Graduate at Australian Taxation Office

7:45 AM

Good morning Alison! No, that is not my colleague in the office but my iPhone talking to me. Lol. It’s time to wake up, have breakfast, and start my Grad training day at the ATO (once a week). I’ll be working from home due to the COVID pandemic. I’ve been able to set up my workspace at home with the approval of my program manager and assistance from IT.

8:45 AM

I sign onto my desktop remotely (using my laptop) around 8:45 am. I use this time to ensure that I’ve correctly registered for this week’s online training session and can access the session via WebEx (a virtual classroom via a videoconferencing application). I do a quick scan of my new emails and respond to any urgent requests. I patiently wait for our learning and development (L&D) trainers to kick start our session, which usually starts off with some trivia and music (they do accept track requests too 😊).

9.00 AM

This week’s topic for the tax technical grads is an introduction to Division 7A concepts. We prepared for this topic by watching four videos (prior to the session) that are available on the ATO website, which provided us with an understanding of fundamental Division 7A concepts, and concerns for the work of the ATO. We begin with theoretical learning as per our learner guide, and practical learning by attempting activities/exercises via our learner workbook throughout the day’s session. All resources required for these sessions are available to download ahead of the session, and you are encouraged to review the materials prior to attending your training day.

10:00 AM

Okay, so I feel the need to prepare you for a phrase that you will hear quite a bit on your training day. “Place your answers in the chat box” says your L&D trainer.

We utilise the chat box throughout the day, to ensure that we are interacting with our L&D trainers and fellow graduates (you only get out what you put in, as they say).

10:30 AM

It’s time for a 10min break, woohoo! This is definitely a good time for me to make another coffee/tea, consume some Old Gold dark chocolate (thanks Cadbury), and stand up/move around, as we’ve been seated for a little over 90min by now.

10:45 AM

We return for more Division 7A fundamental concepts, which continues through to our lunch break. It’s by this point that you would probably be able to say that you’ve experienced most, if not all the following…

work from home illustration

12:00 PM

It’s time for a well-deserved lunch break! I know a lot of people love a hearty meal for lunch, but my staple PB&J sandwich and coffee (on number 2/3 by now) means that I’ll have time for my all-important walk through the nearby local park. I really enjoy getting fresh air and catching some sunrays. It’s just the perfect way for me to switch off and re-energise for the second half of the day.


1:00 PM

Welcome back! (the track you requested earlier is playing in the background of course). Your L&D trainers are ready to resume the session. The remainder of the afternoon is spent by practical learning through various activities, exercises and case studies as per the learner workbook.

1:15 PM

Now, let me introduce you to the ‘breakout room’. You may be thinking that this is a virtual party (my first thought). The breakout room is like a small focus group set up by your L&D trainers, where you will collaborate with fellow graduates on assigned activities, exercises and case studies. You’re given plenty of time to work together and may also be asked to showcase your responses virtually at the end of the breakout. This can be done by sharing your screen, via audio or as a written response in the chat box. I usually found this part of the session would go quickly!

2:15 PM

It’s now time for another 10min break.

2:30 PM

We resume by watching/listening to fellow graduates presenting their responses and receive feedback from our L&D trainers. It is by this point we want to have a good understanding of Division 7A fundamental concepts. Our L&D trainers close off the session by asking us “what have you learned from today’s session?” and many of us type our responses using the chat box.

3:15 PM

As a Tax Technical Grad at the ATO, you are also required to complete learning projects using a virtual platform called ‘Padmore City’. Padmore City looks something like this…

padmore city

Padmore City is a virtual-city themed learning environment for ongoing professional development. The projects required for completion are taxation-based scenarios that we will encounter through work at the ATO. I spend some time to complete these projects and earn learning hours. Do you think my avatar looks like me? It’s totally customisable.

4:00 PM

It’s now time to reconnect with my fellow graduates. We have a nice chat, ask one another if we have any weekend plans (even though it’s Wednesday), and reflect on how the day has been. We have around another hour of work time for the day, so we agree to meet virtually via WebEx and discuss our current milestone task.

4:15 PM

Graduate milestone tasks are like university assignments. We are required to complete milestones throughout the Graduate Program. Our training days are often the best time to work on milestones, schedule meetings with fellow graduates and assigned mentors (current ATO staff that volunteer their time to work with graduates) to discuss and action milestone tasks. It’s a very collaborate approach, even though there are milestones that are actioned individually.

5:06 PM

I’ve reached the end of my Grad training day! I take one final look at my emails and once again, reply to any urgent requests. The standard workday at the ATO is 7 hours and 21 minutes. It’s been a very productive day, and I’m feeling great. I disconnect my remote access to the system now.

5:15 PM

This is my time to take a breather, relax, change into something comfortable (if I’m not already in activewear), tidy up my room and prepare/eat dinner. I find the biggest advantage of working from home is the element of travel time being eliminated from my day. It means that I don’t need to worry about traffic (anyone that drives within the metro area of a major city will understand) or parking, so I personally look forward to the additional 75min daily when working from home.

6:30 PM

I like to do a workout at this time of the day (always outdoors, no gym for me) and then have a shower afterwards.

8:00 PM

I usually spend the rest of the evening chatting to my close friends and family, watching YouTube videos (it’s usually a cooking show) or tuning into an interesting ABC/SBS/BBC show or documentary. I also enjoy a movie and listening to music.

10:30 PM

It’s now time for bed. I usually sleep much later, but this is my scheduled sleep time on my iPhone where all notifications are silenced until 8:00am. I’m not sure if my scheduled sleep time helps me, but I’m always hopeful. 😊