Graduate story: Monica's experience as a Victoria Government graduate

Being part of the grads program furthered Monica’s sense of purpose and community focus, helping her find her calling in a supportive, fast-paced and dynamic environment.

Stream: Data analytics
Home department: Department of Justice and Community Safety
Studied: Science
How she describes herself: Inquisitive, sociable, adaptable, compassionate, logical and reliable
Pronouns: She/her/hers

About Monica

Being of the South-East Asian diaspora, I love exploring my culture through its cuisine and I’m passionate about telling stories with food. I love having friends over so I can cook and entertain. I also love reading, hopefully travelling again soon, and taking my dog on big walks around the Yarra river.

When it comes to my career, I want to continue working in government. It gives me such a sense of purpose knowing my work is helping the community. I’m a big advocate for sustainable eating and farming practices so I’d love to study it. Then I could return to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, or possibly parts of the private sector like lab grown meats or vertical farms!

What I expected

I probably had the same expectations as most people when thinking about a job in government - I assumed my day to day would be similar throughout the year. But it’s been quite the opposite.

A big draw card for me was the department rotations. I thought it would be hard changing roles and moving into, what are essentially, different organisations but it was a rewarding challenge.

It’s easy to put the departments and agencies into one “public service” pile but they’re very different and have their own personalities. My rotations have placed me in roles I would never have chosen for myself, but that I’ve come to love.

What I experienced

I was surprised by the diversity of work opportunities across our cohort. I knew we’d be doing different things based on our stream, but even taking that into account, there was a huge variety in the roles within the streams.

The mentorship program gave me a wealth of knowledge and support and connected me with people I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. I met with previous graduates who worked in my team and got to hear about their experience in the program and their career progression.  

A highlight of the program has been the connection I’ve made with my executive mentor. I knew how busy she was as an executive, but she surprised me with the amount of attention she gave me and the genuine interest in my personal and professional development.

My mentor has been my sounding board for when I needed to have difficult conversations, but she also checks in on me, like when I got my wisdom teeth removed.

Who I worked with

My first rotation was with the Department of Justice and Community Safety in the Information Management Unit as a Developer and Data Analyst.

I was anxious when I started in a technical/programming-based role, something I had little exposure to. But my manger was so supportive, giving me time and space to develop my skills and to be successful in the team.

My second rotation was with Victoria Police in Service Strategy and Performance, Information Systems & Security Command as a Project Officer.

This role brought home how my work directly impacts the community, because I could see it happening.

My favourite part of the day is when I get to check in with the graduate network and debrief. The support from the network makes my job so much easier and more enjoyable.

I’m thankful for the close connections I formed with graduates in my home department (DJCS) before working from home. They’ve been my biggest support through the program, especially because our experience has been so unique.

How I worked in 2020

My teams were incredibly supportive and we maintained a “team environment” despite working from home. We had online coffee catchups where we could discuss anything work or non-work related. We also had online trivia, quizzes, and funny emails to help us feel connected.

I’m proud of getting over my fear of meeting new people. I now really enjoy calling colleagues I don’t know well and having “virtual coffee catchups”. Working from home made it easier and I’ve had the chance to get to know people from different departments and levels.

The VPSC team arranged coffee catchups for the graduate cohort to keep us connected. They also ran regular events so we could catch up virtually outside work.

Advice for future applicants

I absolutely recommend the program to anyone considering it. There’s always meaningful work being done, and it feels good knowing you’re making a difference.

Approach the program with an open mind and don’t funnel your thinking into a specific department or position. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of roles within the public service and you never know which one might catch your eye.

People are so giving with their time when they learn you’re a graduate. They love sharing their story and how they ended up in their role. Hearing their stories is a great opportunity to learn more about the VPS in general, but also to create meaningful connections with your colleagues.

Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes, don’t be afraid to try something new, and don’t dwell on the mistakes you make because they’re quickly forgotten in the face of the progress you’ll make. 

Reviewed 30 March 2021

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