I’m Mel. I completed the National Graduate Program last year. I’m a media adviser in the Media Branch.
I help the media team answer all queries that come in through media or social media channels. I also develop proactive content to promote our work.
I joined the grad program in the Communication discipline of the professional pathway. The benefits of the Department of Human Services grad program are hard to overstate. There’s the obvious, big-ticket perks like advancing to an APS5 classification level and furthering your qualifications with a Diploma of Government. Our graduates are also lucky enough to have frontline experience in the service centres. We directly interact with people in our community seeking our help. This is one of the benefits of working for a delivery-focused agency rather than a policy-focused one.
One definite highlight for me was going to Broome as part of the program’s Indigenous and Multicultural Placement. There, I was able to join our Remote Servicing teams who help people access our services in isolated Indigenous communities. It was a completely different side of Australia I’d never seen before, physically and culturally. The experience was invaluable, helping me understand our customers and the barriers that can prevent them accessing support.
The level of respect and support you’re offered as a graduate surprised me. I’d definitely call it a hidden benefit. But the most underrated benefit is the instant network of your graduate cohort. You’ll come to rely on this group for everything from personal support, professional advice, house hunting and diploma help. Value them.
In my current job as a media advisor, the 2 things I enjoy the most are to:
- coordinate interviews with journalists
- answer questions on social media.
The reason I love doing these 2 things is they’re tied to the core reason my job exists. That is, to inform the community of the support available to them. Coordinating interviews can be intense. You have to consider all possible ways the interview could go wrong, especially if it’s live. But knowing you gave someone the information they need to get support makes it all worthwhile.
My job involves juggling priorities. Journalists will call with a curly enquiry or customers will tweet us with difficulties they’re facing. Our team has to rearrange its days to see that issue resolved. I have to play detective, pulling together information from a range of people and asking the right questions. Once we figure out what the problem is, we have to write the best answer we can. At the same time, we’re always drafting proactive content, like a media story or a Facebook post. We’re also regularly engaging with media organisations to get as much information about our services out to the community. The environment can be very fast-moving at times.
I love being in this team because I feel like we’re very customer-centric. We’re all here to give our customers the best social security we can. That’s something my team and I really carry through everything we do.
I have a few pieces of advice for graduates. First, it’s a small world. Don’t burn bridges or brush off people you think aren’t going to be important in your future. You never know where your peers will end up or when you’ll need to work with them later on.
Second, take every opportunity possible, especially if it scares you. It won't always be easy, but you’ll grow each time you take on a new challenge.
And also, one of my university mentors told me employers will be happy to teach anything except a good attitude. I firmly believe that’s true. Our department is always in a state of change too. So a willingness to learn and pick up new skills is always going to be valuable wherever you are. Embrace change and maintain a good attitude with everyone you work with, often things will fall into place.