Alfred Cook

Alfred Cook

University of Canberra
Graduate Economist
Alfred studied Bachelor of Applied Economics (Honours) at University of Canberra

What's your job about?

I work in a team that monitors and analyses regional and overall labour market trends and their implications for different job seeker cohorts. My day typically involves assisting with and preparing briefs, labour market information and analysis for the Minister’s office, the Executive and other stakeholders. The briefs I produce often require quick turnaround, e.g. question time briefs and media releases, while larger reports are worked on collaboratively within the team. At times, we also give and assist with presentations, which produce interesting insights into overall labour market trends and developments.  

In my other graduate rotation I worked in the Behavioural Economics team, responsible for providing advice on the application of behavioural economics approaches to the Department’s policies and programmes. My tasks involved conducting timely research and assisting in developing and implementing behavioural economics interventions and trials within the Employment portfolio. It was an interesting experience to give presentations to State offices across Australia and conduct field research with employment services providers.

What's your background?

I grew up in Canberra and worked part-time whilst studying at the University of Canberra. After completing my honours year in labour economics, I applied for the graduate program at the Department of Employment because I am interested in labour market issues and addressing the barriers different people face in successfully participating in the labour force. I have found the Department of Employment to be a great place to work and the work we do is important. By helping people into jobs we can help people transform their lives and that of their families for the better.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

My current role requires some expertise in economics, however there are opportunities in other areas of the Department that rely on a people from a broad range of disciplines. My role requires the ability extract data and analyse trends in labour market data whilst writing briefs with quick turnaround.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The work we do is important and is used to inform employment policy and the issues discourse. We report on developments in the labour market as data is released and as such it is rewarding to see our work appear in government reports, new policies and at times in media stories.

What are the limitations of your job?

There are times when we are under pressure to produce briefs within a short deadline, but I am fortunate to work in a team that it is conscious of workload and shares responsibilities to perform to the deadline. While we don’t often have to work on the weekends, there are times when we have to work outside of normal business hours. I think it’s important to be flexible when it comes to work. There will be times when you have to work longer hours and very intensely. But you will also get times when it’s less stressful.

Pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

I think it’s important to study an area or discipline you enjoy learning about rather than something you don’t like but think will get you a job. I did economics because I found it interesting. I found that having an Honours degree helped me get a good job easier than a pass degree. So I would strongly recommend doing an Honours year or a Master’s degree. Researching and writing a thesis certainly gives you skills that are directly transferrable to the workplace. It also demonstrates to employers that you can take a task and stick to it.