Taara is completing a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts.
She is also an ongoing Policy and Program Officer at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) in the Higher Education Division.
04 NOVEMBER 2021
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your internship and job experience at DESE?
To be open and willing to learn on every occasion, your job can teach you so much if you let it. I have been able to dive into so many different aspects of work and policy by volunteering myself for every new task or challenge. I have enjoyed improving my writing capabilities, my professionalism and my network through my internship and subsequent job at DESE. All of the colleagues and mentors I have had at work have really shaped me and allowed me to grow and develop myself professionally.
Furthermore, I learned imposter syndrome can really consume people. When I first started, I was scared and thought that because I had never had a “real” job before that I couldn’t do it. However, having started and now worked there for 10 months, I know that everything is new and scary until you try it, and if you put in the effort, you will do well and succeed. Learning on the job is part of the experience, so embrace it and make sure you don’t doubt yourself because you can do it!
How have you developed professional skills through your internship?
I have been able to observe how people conduct themselves in the workplace through written and verbal communication, even through things as nuanced as work attire and working relationships. I have tried to encapsulate and learn this behaviour, and adopt it. I have asked many questions and talked to colleagues about their work experiences, and have tried to take on lots of different types of roles. This includes stakeholder meetings, audits, branch stand-ups, presentations or providing input on briefs across teams. I have also been able to learn and take on board what I have enjoyed, and what I have seen work well for the people around me.
How did you balance your work and study commitments?
Luckily, I was able to transition pretty well, as I have always had a casual job whilst studying at university, but it was definitely an adjustment. It wasn’t a hospitality or retail job, where you can switch off. It was a lot more mentally exhausting, but very rewarding. I was able to take time off when uni work ramped up, and I was very grateful for how flexible and understanding my supervisor and team were. It forced me to be more organised and manage my time well, and it definitely helped to talk to the other interns who were also at uni, as they could empathise with the juggling of workloads. At the end of the day, I was working three days a week and doing a full load of uni. However, my internship counted for 12 units, so it was great having the time count towards my degree. I made sure to listen to my body and mind and tried to take it easy when I wasn’t feeling great, but it was a good experience and taught me a lot about managing commitments.
What is your advice to ANU students who are applying for the internship positions in DESE?
To any ANU student who applies for a position at DESE, take any opportunity you can to get involved as you can learn so much from everything and everyone there. Be open to being challenged, to growing and to enjoying work as it is very different from uni life and casual jobs. It can really help you start your career and meeting incredible people is a bonus. I have been so grateful for all the people I have met at DESE and all the opportunities I have been given to grow, improve and be mentored by role models that I aspire to be like and admire very much.