Graduate Project Officer
Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability,
NSW Dept of Planning, Industry and Environment
B/Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry) and B/Creative Intelligence and Innovation*, 2019
For FASS graduate Alice Rummery, government is the place to innovate.
*This degree is now known as the Bachelor of Communication (Social and Political Sciences) / Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation.
Government tends to be more traditional, and that’s why it is so important to have more trained innovative thinkers in the public sector workforce!
If I am working somewhere where I'm helping people and the world, that is a win for me. I can see myself staying in the public sector working in energy, climate change and sustainability, because it is such a relevant way to contribute to our society right now.
Why did you choose the combined B/Comms (Social Inquiry) and B/Creative Intelligence and Innovation degree?
I have always been really interested in society and politics and I am passionate about social justice and equality. Studying Social Inquiry seemed like a no-brainer for me.
BCII (B/Creative Intelligence and Innovation) added an extra flair- creativity, team work, problem solving and innovation are needed in the social justice space right now, so I felt BCII complemented my core degree very nicely.
What were your majors?
Besides Social Inquiry, I did a sub-major in Environmental Studies. I have always been passionate about protecting our environment and curious about how to do this, so this was a perfect way to incorporate it into my degrees.
Was it what you expected?
I didn’t really know what to expect. As an 18 year old when I was choosing what I was going to study, the idea that I could choose what I was interested in was really exciting, but I had no idea what that meant practically.
I really enjoyed the self-motivated aspect of uni. Because I was so passionate about the things that I was studying, it was actually exciting to learn, and relatively east to get all of the work done.
Best and worst parts? Most valuable subjects/experiences?
By far the best element was the life-experience that university has given me. Not only did I get to learn fascinating things and pursue knowledge that inspired me, I thoroughly enjoyed being a student and having the freedom to discover what made me tick and explore possibilities for my future.
I also met all of my best friends at uni, and have grown so much as a person as a direct result of my uni experience.
My most valuable experiences came out of putting my hand up for extracurriculars.
For example, I did four internships as a requirement of my course, and those experiences opened up a whole new world of amazing opportunities that I’d never thought I’d have.
I was a Board member of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, a Policy and Advocacy Officer at Youth Action NSW, the ‘deputy’ Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney and a Youth Activist Leader at Plan International - these are all roles or titles that I gained as a direct outcome of these compulsory internships. I also interned at NSW Parliament House for a Member of Parliament, who is now an Australian Senator.
The absolute highlight of my time as a student was when I was chosen to be the UTS representative at the 2018 National Student Leadership Forum in Canberra, where I got to meet the Prime Minister – what an amazing experience!
Hardest, worst parts?
The most challenging thing about my uni experiences was definitely juggling multiple casual jobs, internships, part-time roles and my uni workload, all while still trying to have fun.
This along with the assignments that I submitted half-deliriously at the very last minute (but always on time!) actually taught me so much about determination and perseverance. Looking back now, it was all worth it, and it feels much easier in hindsight!
I can’t count- there were so many! That is one of the benefits of meeting all of your best friends at uni.
What were the benefits of doing the combined degree with BCII – some might say policy/government roles aren’t very ‘innovative’?
I would agree that Government tends to be more traditional, and that’s why it is so important to have more trained innovative thinkers in the public sector workforce!
BCII taught me so many skills that employers look for (team work, innovative thinking, problem solving, working with industry on projects, entrepreneur mindset) that it helped me stand apart from other graduates with similar communications or social science degrees.
How did you land a job in the NSW Government grad program?
Graduate roles are notoriously competitive. I believe about 4000 people applied for the 188 roles in my cohort of the NSW Government program. I knew it would be competitive, and so I gritted my teeth and decided to start looking for graduate program openings at the very start of my final year at UNI, because many of them open in the first few months of the year.
This meant that I ended up for applying for a few graduate programs that I wasn’t particularly interested in. However, this really helped me land my job because meant that I had become familiar with the application processes and psychometric testing.
By the time the applications for the NSW Government Graduate Program opened in August, I didn’t find the application process daunting as I was able to use the experience and tips that I had learnt from my previous applications. A long recruitment process later, and I had the job!
What has the experience been like so far? Would you recommend it to other students/grads?
I have loved the graduate program so far, and would really recommend it. Being in a graduate program is wonderful, because it supports your transition to full-time work, while also giving you amazing access and opportunity to work on very interesting tasks with a direct link to the NSW community.
The NSW Government Graduate Program also places you in three rotations across the Government in 18 months. In my role, I have spent 6 months working in NSW Parliament House doing research for parliamentarians, 6 months in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on environmental strategy and media communications, and will spend another 6 months in this working on energy, climate change and sustainability before being offered my permanent role.
It is an amazing way to be exposed to a variety of areas and also have the security of a guaranteed permanent role.
What are your career goals?
I am really excited for my future, as I can see the opportunities and pathways that uni and my extracurricular activities have given to me.
In regards to my career, if I am working somewhere where I helping people and the world, that is a win for me. I can see myself staying in the public sector working in energy, climate change and sustainability, because it is such a relevant way to contribute to our society right now.
For the distant future, I have my heart set on working for a charity, NGO or international organisation such as the United Nations. I would also love to put my BCII skills to use and start my own charity, start up or NGO – we will see!
What advice would you give to future students?
Firstly, study what you are interested in, even if you don’t think that it will give you a job.
I think the reason that I am so happy with my uni experience is because I am genuinely passionate about the area that I studied. Like everyone, I knew about the stigma that “arts graduates won’t get jobs”, but this isn’t true! Especially if you are studying something that you are excited about, that will come through.
Secondly, get passionate and put your hand up for opportunities (or make your own opportunities)!
Uni gives you so much opportunity to get involved in really exciting things, from student clubs, to leadership, to award programs, to internships. I found that once I put my hand up for something that I was interested in, that lead to another thing, which snowballed until I was being invited to meet the Prime Minister!
So make the most of the opportunity that being a student gives you, get passionate about the things that you enjoy and feel strongly about, and get going.
I have found that both of these things have immensely added to the quality of my life, and have tangibly helped me pursue my dream career.
What was your biggest takeaway from your time at UTS?
Reflecting on my time, I think the UTS motto “Think.Change.Do” actually perfectly describes my biggest takeaway.
We are in a critical point in time where the biggest impacts for our future will be lead by people with the power to think of new, practical solutions that have the power to create change and pave the way for a better future.
I hope to be one of those people!