I’m Waseem. I completed the National Graduate Program last year. I’m a data analyst in the Operations Management Division.
Before the program, I was already working for the Department of Human Services in the Compliance Branch in Perth. I didn’t actually know about the program, but my team leader recommended that I apply for it. It was one of the best decisions I could’ve made.
Unlike other graduate programs, this one guaranteed a permanent position after 10 months. This was as long as I passed probation and other assessments. I was also able to complete a Diploma of Government, which is very helpful for any APS job.
What I liked most was that, in the generalist pathway, I rotated between 2 different placements. The department allocates the first one. You find the second one yourself, which lets you get exposure in an area of interest to you. This is a great feature that lets you work in a completely different field of interest.
I’m from Perth and was lucky enough to be able to stay there for my program. The department placed me in a virtual team with members from all over Australia. Not living in Canberra, like most of the other grads, wasn’t an issue. The graduate team flew me over for training and important things like induction and graduation. We did the rest of our meetings and forums via videoconferencing.
At the start of the program I had a good understanding of the department’s business. But had never learned any programming. I travelled to Canberra, Hobart and Brisbane for programming courses. The skills I learned have been very valuable and have opened up many opportunities for me.
All in all, the graduate program is a fantastic opportunity. It gives you a wealth of experience and a sought after skill set. It paves the way for your future career.
I now work as a data analyst in a team that supports service centres and telephony Smart Centres. We do this by combining business knowledge and data to inform decision making.
My day to day tasks are always changing. I might work on an analysis project of my own or find data for a senior executive. My responsibilities also include creating or updating spreadsheets and programming, which includes writing or amending code.
What I love most about my job is the strategic thinking behind analytics and the flexibility in our work. If I’m analysing a particular trend and find something of interest, my team encourages me to investigate further. The work can be challenging at times, but you’re always learning something new so it’s a rewarding experience.
A limitation of this field is getting placed in a team with work that might not interest you. There are many different types of data analysis teams in the department and they do different things. Some roles might be more repetitive than you'd like.
If you’re going to apply for grad programs, my advice is to apply straight out of university. For this program, you’re only eligible to apply within 3 years of graduating. So if you apply in your first year after uni and you’re unsuccessful, you still have time to reapply. Also, in hindsight, I wish I knew how challenging a video interview might be. As it was my first time I was nervous and could’ve prepared more. I would definitely tell myself to over prepare for the video interview.
As for other advice, don’t be afraid of failure, as failing lets you learn the most about how you can improve. Apply for every opportunity you can and ask for feedback each time. This can help you improve and make you a better candidate for next time. Also, always choose upskilling yourself over the money. You can always make money, but diversifying your skill set will open more opportunities in the future.