The FaHCSIA Graduate Program recruits graduates coming in at the entry level in all disciplines including finance and IT and generalists and we’ve now got an analytical stream as well.
And they have two rotations into different areas, the first rotation is the home branch and after the end of the second rotation in December, they're advanced to an APS four.
This differs a little bit to other departments in that other departments may have a longer or shorter program and they may also advance people to a different level than we do.
For my first rotation I was placed in an area specifically pertaining to my degree. So, at first I worked in the financial accounting branch. Secondly I was given the option to place myself in an area where I saw a good fit and I choose IT which was outside the finance stream but FaHCSIA was flexible enough to cater for that.
What we aim to do is actually expose the graduates to FaHCSIA and the bureaucracy because it can be very different for graduates when they’re coming in if they’ve never had any exposure.
I think that being a part of a graduate program really gives you that overarching view of the department. You really get to see where you would fit in the department and in the public service. It’s really not just a job; it’s the start of someone’s career. So working with graduate team and all the support that you receive just really springboards you and gives you a better opportunity in my view, than a lot of other staff just starting out careers.
How we try and balance it is by grounding them in the practicalities of it, so we’ll do a Diploma of Government or some equivalent training for them so its a little bit on how the government actually works.
I found the work that I did in the finance streams, specifically in financial accounting took a lot form my qualification and applied it directly. So I was working in the financial statements area and also in business operations in accounts payable. So I had a breadth of understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business as well as the reporting requirements that the department has to various external entities like the Australian National Audit Office.
Our senior managers are very, very generous with their time and they actually talk to the grads about their career paths, what’s important, what they need to look out for.
The parliamentary secretary and the ministers have also been very supportive of the graduate program. So they get exposure to the wide range of the APS and how it works including FaHCSIA and how FaHCSIA fits in to the rest of the public service and then they have an opportunity to decide where they wish to go in pursuit of a further career.
FaHCSIA has a wide support program to graduates. At the beginning when the graduates first start we actually allocate a buddy for the graduate, who is somebody from the previous year who understands what it’s like to be new in the bureaucracy and often new in Canberra as well.
The FaHCSIA graduate team have supported me from the beginning to end. They are not only friendly and approachable with any queries that I may have but I know that they do a lot of work in the background in organizing us graduates to where we need to be in the graduate program.
Working in the graduate team, the highlights are is to actually meet the graduates when they start to apply online for the recruitment process and then we meet them face to face at orientation and then seeing them at the end of the program and how they’ve developed and to be very strong personalities and turned out to be very good public servants.
The best part of the graduates program is, for me, the social aspect. Being part of cohesive team of young people, I believe there are more than eighty of us this year from various backgrounds all being put into one position its almost impossible to not be social and I’ve made some friends that I think I’ll carry on in my career and its also been a great way to gain some professional networking colleagues as well.
There is also what’s known as the Social network of Graduates, which is for all Canberra graduates, where they all support each other and have social events and they go to ski trips and do what they call the amazing race around Canberra to get to know Canberra. So there’s a huge range of supports. We also do have a alumni of previous years graduates who are available to support graduates.
I believe the graduate program has provided me with a breadth of opportunities to grow as an employee with the department. I’ve been exposed to a multitude of learning and development oportunities through the certificate four in Government that graduates need to complete as well as a lot of external courses through the priority learning and development calendar. And I believe I will be able to apply these skills both on the job and the job that I'm holding now or indeed any job I hold in the future, whether that be in the public or private sector.