Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Melbourne and had no idea what I wanted to do going in to university. During uni, I travelled extensively with my top picks; Sri Lanka, Italy, Turkey, and Spain. I also studied abroad, volunteered, and worked every job under the sun from hospitality, retail, admin, legal, and engineering to name a few. All these experiences helped me to slowly figure out what I enjoyed and where I could perhaps see a career for myself.
How did you get to your current job position?
I realised the things I enjoyed always involved a sense of giving back, for example, my work with Engineers Without Borders where I studied gender diversity within humanitarian engineering. So I connected the dots and a job in the public service seemed to align perfectly. I knew I wanted to end up in policy so I applied to the Graduate program at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).
How did you choose your specialisation?
I chose to apply to public policy because I knew it involved two things: intense teamwork (something I loved during my engineering degree) and a chance to give back, however small that may be. I’ll admit I did consider alternatives such as becoming a Law or Engineering graduate. I think everyone does. For me, it came down to seeing what specialisation and company aligned with my values.
What was your interview process like?
The interview process involved several stages: initial application, online testing, video interview followed by an interview in person. Of course, I was asked about my experiences, but I felt PM&C really tried to find out what kind of person I was beyond my resume, what sort of values I held. That emphasis on caring about who I was really made a difference for me in the application process.
What does your employer do?
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provides advice to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and our portfolio ministers on almost any issue imaginable. From social, women’s, economic and international policy through to issues on national security. We really are in the heart of the government. It is fast-paced, consultative, and a lot of fun.
What are your areas of responsibility?
I am currently working within the Climate Change and Energy team working specifically on international climate and liquid fuels.
Can you describe a typical workday?
As cliché as it sounds, there really is no typical day. Being at PM&C means you get the chance to influence policy at the early stages and subsequently advise the government on what is the best policy. This means new deadlines might pop up and you have to adapt.
The last thing I worked on was writing a brief to the Prime Minister on an emerging issue. While I can’t say much, I had to coordinate with many different areas within PM&C to provide the most robust advice possible so that the Prime Minister can make the best decision possible. It sometimes scares me that what I write might be read by the Prime Minister but there are so many amazing people willing to help that I feel confident in my work.
What are the career prospects of your job?
The best part of the graduate year at PM&C is the rotations because they allow you to try out almost anywhere within PM&C. Other grads are working in everything from behavioral economics, the Office for Women, to social policy including education, immigration, and infrastructure. Honestly, I am just excited to try new things and learn as much as possible because where else are you going to get this opportunity?
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
If I weren’t doing my current job I think I would be in another government department or perhaps in the Not For Profit or startup space. I love the sense of working towards something, it gives me such a sense of fulfillment. Plus I think I’m too tall to be an astronaut.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love that my work requires me to work collaboratively not just with my colleagues, but with public servants from across government. As flagged before, I loved the intense teamwork that was required in my engineering degree. I really do thrive off working with people to solve a common problem and PM&C really requires you to do this to provide the best advice.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
I definitely bear responsibility but there are so many people that I can turn to, plus there’s a number of checks and balances that means my work is always robust. There’s no weekend work, there are deadlines but I always feel supported, and always feel like I can ask stupid questions (something which I do every day).
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?