Emma is a former NSW Government Graduate who joined the Program in 2016. She is currently an Acting Senior Project Officer with the NSW Department of Education and is based in Sydney.

What’s your current role with the NSW Government?

Currently, I’m the Acting Senior Project Officer in the Early Childhood Education Directorate of the NSW Department of Education. I am responsible for administering several large-scale funded early childhood programs across the State. Primarily, the objective of my role is to be part of enabling universal access to an early childhood education for every child in NSW.

What did you like most about the graduate program?

I liked the exposure to various agencies and business areas that I may not otherwise have chosen to work in. For example, I worked in a service capital planning unit with the Ministry of Health who work toward health service projections, so that hospitals and health service providers can be prepared for future patient care.

I’m not naturally inclined to seek out roles that include lots of data; but I liked that the program enabled me to try out roles and areas that weren’t in my immediate skill set – it was hugely rewarding for my professional development.

What were three key things you learned in the graduate program?

The three words I can use to summarise what I learnt in the Grad Program are: Resilience. Networking. Prioritising.

With three government rotations, I learnt a level of resilience to a changing environment, which is a skill that comes in handy in every role I’ve had since completing the Program. I also learnt valuable networking skills, but also the importance of maintaining those professional relationships to ensure that you’re linked to lots of diverse areas of expertise and perspectives. Thirdly, the Grad Program taught me about prioritising – what it means to prioritise your work, so that you can effectively balance a range of tasks and projects to reach a positive outcome or solution. Part of this, for me, was gaining the confidence and experience to escalate risk, and manage-up effectively.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?

Take care of yourself! The work we do in the NSW Government often comes with a fast pace, and a level of either direct or indirect impact to many lives across our State. The advice that resonates with me the most is to ensure a level of self-care: be patient and gentle with yourself in times of learning, and proud of doing the best you can. Also, make sure there’s a healthy balance between work and life – you are more likely to positively contribute when you’re focusing on your own wellbeing!

Your advice to students applying?

Listen to the inner voice in your mind that tells you about your ‘why’. Often, we know why we want to apply for the role – but as human beings, can get caught in all the reasons why you might not be ready, or might not be the right fit. Let your ‘why’ be your guide – let it enable you to remain motivated, and on the pursuit of a career that is meaningful to you. Or, in other words, shake off the doubts and apply!