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University of Wollongong
Emily studied Bachelor of Law & Politics at University of Wollongong
What's your job about?
My first rotation in the Department of Health was in Budget Branch, the branch responsible for pulling together Health’s annual Budget. During these four months I assisted in the delivery of the Health portfolio’s 2016-17 Budget. My role was to develop key internal documents for briefing on Health’s Budget measures, through which I gained a high level overview of the strategic intent of the Department, looking at the objectives and reforms in Health moving forward. It was a great experience to be in Budget Branch during Budget and get a firsthand view of how the Department delivers on its commitments and remains accountable to the public.
My second rotation was in Legal Services Branch, in which time I predominately worked on Aged Care compliance matters. This meant I was advising different areas in the Department to ensure Aged Care legislation was complied with in all our undertakings. This again was a good learning experience, as I came to understand how the Department operates within its legislative confines, and the importance of ensuring that all of our actions are legally compliant. Legal also offered me an opportunity to experience the Corporate side of the Department, as the branch primarily operates to advises clients and offer specialised knowledge.
My last rotation was in Health Workforce Planning, a section that looks at the capacity and distribution of the medical profession in Australia, developing policy around improving this, for example through rural incentive programs and overseas skilled professionals programs. This rotation gave me an opportunity to be involved in the development of policy, and see things from the very beginning of the process. It was a good opportunity
What's your background?
I always knew I wanted to study law, but was unsure as to where I wanted to go with this. During my university studies I decided to study abroad in 2015 in the Netherlands for six months. I wanted to travel but also take some time away from my regular routine to get some perspective on what I wanted to do with my degree. I took subjects in European Union Law, International Human Rights law, and international administrative law. This experience really helped to open my eyes and confirm for me that I wanted to be in a career where I used my degree in the bigger picture sense, to look at law from a broader governmental perspective and challenge the ways in which it influences our lives.
I went through the Graduate recruitment process to gain this position. I started in February 2016, so I have been with the Department for around 10 months. The recruitment process was long and quite challenging. It extended over roughly 8 months, and involved 5 stages including cognitive testing, a telephone interview, and an assessment centre which included a personal interview, group interview, and a written test.
I think in your graduate year it is really important to keep an open mind. I was placed in a home rotation that I thought I would not like at all, considering it really didn’t align with my background and interests. At first I was quite anxious about this, but it ended up being the best four months I could have asked for, in which time I learnt so much, was pushed out of my comfort zone and created many meaningful working relationship, including a few mentors in the process.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, someone with a different background could do this job. It is about core skills of being able to effectively communicate, collaboratively work in a team environment and being open to take on anything thing that comes at you and learn and develop from this.
I think the underlying skill set is secondary to this. Each team has a varying range of work, and therefore skillsets that are required, so regardless of background, everyone’s skills are important in binging a different perspective to work. Someone with a different background couldn’t be placed in Legal though, this is obviously a specialist area you need to be qualified for.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The best thing about my job so far has been contributing to the delivery of Health’s 2016-17 Budget. To see the way the Department operates to deliver such an enormous piece of work was a huge learning experience. The end of Budget definitely marked a time for me when I knew I was doing the right thing in this job. It is so unique to be a part of high level decision making and see how things come together for delivery to both Parliament and the public. Health’s policies affect every single Australian so the decisions being made have a significant impact. Being able to see this come to fruition has been a great part of my job so far. During my time in Health I have also had the opportunity to attend Question Time and Senate Estimates in Parliament House. To see the work your Department does being put into action and debated in Parliament is a really unique opportunity, and makes you feel part of a broader government framework that is helping to deliver for the community.
What are the limitations of your job?
My workload has varied across my rotations. In my first rotation I worked long hours and had a lot of responsibility, running a lot of my own tasks and in the lead up to Budget, being available to work weekends. My second rotation was much the same, with slightly decreased hours. However in my third rotation I don’t have many responsibilities and more often than not, work standard hours. Job responsibilities and hours vary largely, depending on the rotation you are in and what is going on for that section at that time.
My job isn’t physically demanding- although if you haven’t worked a full time job before, sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day can be a big readjustment in itself.
The biggest limitation in my job is that there a lot of clearance process and hierarchy of decision making in the public service. While you can understand the reasons for this, the result is that a lot of the decision making is removed, and things take time to be approved and progressed.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- It appeals to employers if you have a general idea of what you want to do and what you want out of your career. Not only does this give the impression of personal drive and direction but it makes sure you don't end up in a working environment you're not comfortable in. Think about what is important for you such as an organisation that values work-life-balance or teamwork and chose employers based on these values.
- Be open to things that aren’t exactly what you wanted. I have found that the jobs I thought I was going to love didn’t turn out to be what I had thought. But jobs that didn’t fit exactly what I wanted turned out to be the most beneficial. It was these jobs that I took the most from. Grab any opportunity that comes your way and remember you are learning the most when you are out of your comfort zone.
- Don’t stress out on your University marks! You have your whole working career to stress, and getting the degree and good work experience is more important than whether you got a pass or a credit.
Why did you choose the Department of Health?
It is a large portfolio, with a diverse range of work and opportunities available to be involved. Health is also an area that requires significant reform and redevelopment over the coming years, and I think career wise, it would be a great opportunity to be part of this dynamic change. To be a part of the public service more broadly is also something that appeals to me. Given my background in law and politics, I find the public service to be a good intersection between these.
For me working in Health was an added bonus, as I have always had a strong interest in living and active and healthy lifestyle, and influencing those around me to do the same.
What are you interests?
I like anything outdoors, and Canberra has a lot of great hikes and trails to do so that’s great. I also love to cook and eat at nice restaurants- you are never short of somewhere to go out for brunch or dinner in Canberra!
I am quite an outgoing person, I like social activities, being active and spending time with friends. I am highly organised, and enjoy a good challenge.