Department of Social Services Graduate Program

Karen Cifuentes

ICT Stream, ICT Officer

A little about me

I completed a Master of Information Technology in 2014. Earlier that year I had applied for the APS ICT Graduate bulk recruitment round, and was successful in gaining a position with DSS.

I relocated to Canberra in January 2015 with my pet ‘family’ – a small dog J. DSS staff were quite helpful during this time, which made the transition process a good experience. I emphasize this, as relocations between cities can be challenging. The support I received was very much appreciated.

I live just a few minutes from work, and quite like the tranquil lifestyle that I have in Canberra.

My experience as a graduate

As a 2015 Graduate I worked in the ICT stream, with DSS’ Information Management and Technology Group. I participated in two five-month rotations – first with the Client Services Branch’s Project Management Office, and subsequently with the Application Delivery Branch’s Online Services Section, Intranet team.

Both rotations provided a great opportunity to learn about and enhance my knowledge on how ICT supports the work done by DSS, as well as learning about the main areas of work that the Department does.

Several examples of the types of skills (learnt at University) that I applied during my rotations include: ICT project management, research and analysis of information, and Intranet/HTML content editing.

As an ICT Graduate, I had a specific developmental opportunity, additional to the other training available to generalist DSS graduates – I completed a post graduate qualification in ICT.

What I do now

My permanent base is with IMTG’s Online Services Section. I provide support for the Departmental Intranet system. I attend to a variety of client area enquiries on the Intranet, perform updates to Intranet content, and carry out Intranet content analysis via an analytics tool.

My contribution to the team extends to the delivery of a corporate system that is effective and reliable, which assists Departmental staff in the performance of their jobs through ready availability of area-specific information.

Highlights of my graduate programme

There were a number of great aspects about the DSS/ICT Graduate Programme. On one front, it provided me with a good opportunity to learn about the current work of my Department. On another front, the Graduate Programme was great as I was able to develop networks with other Graduates, both from DSS and other APS/ICT Agencies.

It is also great to be able to see that my contribution does make a difference. Whilst I’m not in a team where the work carried out directly impacts the public, I have had various opportunities to support the provision of corporate ICT services.

Advice to 2017 DSS Graduate Programme Applicants

What could I say to applicants who might be considering working with DSS? Well, firstly that there are various opportunities in this Department to develop your knowledge and skills (be it from an ICT or generalist perspective) – you just have to be open to the possibilities and willing to have a go. Work/life balance is also important in this Department, which is great to know.