The AEC’s graduate program provided me with the opportunity to get hands-on operational experience during the 2016 federal election by visiting state and divisional offices. Meeting the wide range of permanent and temporary election staff, and learning about their roles, was one of the highlights of my graduate year. Working alongside thousands of other people from across the country to deliver such a large scale and complex event provided me with a real rush, and a sense of community.
Combined with the formal introduction to the Australian Public Service in Canberra, and rotations through different branches in the AEC’s National Office, I managed to see and learn an incredible amount in my graduate year. It is only when you see the AEC from the inside that you start to appreciate the diverse range of activities the agency conducts. The key skills I needed from university were the ability to learn quickly and think critically: there are so many knowledgeable people in National Office willing to share their wisdom if you ask the right questions.
The smaller size of the AEC’s graduate program also brings many benefits. I developed a really close bond with the other graduates, and everyone in the agency went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We were also able to meet directly with Senior Executive staff on multiple occasions, and never felt shut out from opportunities to influence up.
At the end of our graduate year I was offered an ongoing position in the SA State Office, where I have now become an Executive Officer working directly with the State Executive. I assist with corporate governance, strategic planning, monitoring and reporting, and any other unique projects they want me to work on. Even when between elections there is still so much to learn and get involved in, and that is what drives my continued interest in the AEC.
I applied to join the 2016 AEC Graduate program as I was seeking to use my variety of skills and experiences differently to how my current employment would allow. After spending some time working in polling places and doing further research on the agency, the AEC seemed like the perfect organisation to suit both my broader interests and work style.
A highlight of my graduate year was spending the federal election period in the Northern Territory. Whilst working out of the Darwin office, I was involved in a variety of projects including the hiring and training of polling staff, training of Voter Information Officers in remote communities, delivering remote mobile polling services and managing the declaration vote exchange.
Throughout the year, I was also able to experience work in the Workforce Planning team and the Redistributions Secretariat for both the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Each of these rotations, in combination with workshops and training at the APSC Graduate Development Program, helped me make the transition into becoming a public servant.
After my Graduate year, I began work in the Policy team within Roll Management Branch however after a few months, accepted the role as Secretariat for the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand. In this position I provide support to Electoral Commissioners from all the AEC’s Joint Roll Partners, and New Zealand, as they work to cooperate, and consider contemporary electoral challenges.
My main reason for applying to the AEC's 2014 Graduate Program was to gain exposure to the Australian democratic process. I had seen the electoral process from a voter's perspective and was interested in the 'behind the scenes' work that was done in the years before an election to make it all possible. Australia's election system is complex and I respect that the work of the AEC is invaluable to ensure all Australians have a voice in democracy.
The AEC also appealed to me as a smaller agency. After working in both small and large private firms I found my experiences in smaller organisations provided more opportunities to network with senior leaders and to be exposed to a more varied range of projects. I liked the idea of getting to know all the key players in the agency, as opposed to getting lost in a bigger department.
Some highlights of the program for me were the three rotations which provided broad exposure to various areas of the agency, and the opportunity to gain additional skills and knowledge at the APSC Graduate Development Program.
I was drawn to apply to the public service as I like the idea of working to contribute to Australia and the Australian people. The AEC's role in Australian society is significant in that it has a genuine impact on the lives of all Australians.
The Graduate Program gave me the opportunity to work in several different areas of the agency, including an election placement in Tasmania where I assisted the Tasmanian Electoral Commission in a legislative council election. The training I received in the APSC's Graduate Development Program complimented on-the-job experiences, and it was a great way to meet grads from other agencies.
From an IT perspective, the AEC is a great place to work. It is a small agency, which means you have the opportunity to try a lot of different things, and there are also some large interesting projects that you can get involved in.
I applied to join the 2013 AEC Graduate Program as I was seeking the opportunity to implement and develop the skills I gained throughout university, and I felt that a small Federal Government agency was the perfect place for this. I was also interested in undertaking the APSC's Graduate Development Program to enhance my understanding and awareness of the wider APS environment.
Throughout my graduate year, I was exposed to a wide range of development opportunities and I felt that the AEC provided me with a very positive and supportive working environment. For example, I was able to work on a variety of diverse and complex Human Resource (HR) projects, including workforce planning, reviewing training for polling officials and workplace relations. I also worked with a number of senior executive leaders on different projects, which provided me with extensive networking and mentoring opportunities.
One of the many highlights in my graduate year was the opportunity to work in a divisional office in Victoria during the 2013 federal election. In this role, I assisted with the recruitment of polling officials and undertook the role of Officer in Charge for a polling place in Melbourne. I also conducted pre-polling and mobile polling, including work in St Mary's House of Welcome to assist homeless individuals to engage in the electoral process.
After my graduate year, I was delighted to accept a role in the Workplace Relations team, where I manage a number of complex HR matters, including enterprise bargaining negotiations.
I would highly recommend the AEC's Graduate Program to anyone who is seeking fantastic development opportunities and the ability to positively contribute to Australian community.
I have always held a passion for observing politics, international relations and comparative electoral systems. I formalised these interests through my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree at the ANU where I undertook research into the Australian and United States electoral systems. Additionally, during High School and University I worked as a temporary polling official at federal, state and local government elections which consolidated my interest in electoral administration. Accordingly, the AEC graduate program was a natural fit for my interests, experiences and university studies.
The highlight of the graduate year was my 2013 federal election placement where I undertook twelve days of remote polling in the Kimberly, Western Australia followed by two weeks in Geraldton at the post-election day counting centre. Our remote polling team of four travelled from Broome to Kununurra, establishing 24 polling places at Indigenous communities, stations and tourist resorts. Remote polling presented unique challenges such as a lack of tables and electricity. At the fresh scrutiny centre I counted ballot papers, managed small counting teams and took part in the declaration exchange. The experience was enriching both professionally and personally as I absorbed the AEC business, learning from experienced AEC staff and enjoying the beautiful ocean sunsets – all while keeping an eye out for the local salt water crocs!
Back in Canberra, additional highlights of the graduate year included undertaking my rotations in three diverse areas (the Governance Team, IT Branch and the Project Management Office), completing the APSC's Graduate Development Program, and working with a range of friendly and supportive colleagues.
I made the decision to apply for a graduate position at the AEC halfway through my final year at Adelaide University. I was completing a double degree in Media and Arts (Australian Politics) and recognised the opportunity to work at the AEC as a first step to applying my academic studies to the workforce.
At the time I was unsure if I was suited to a career in the Public Service, I only had previous experience writing for a business magazine and working in bars. I spent some time looking at other graduate positions both in the public and private sectors and decided that the opportunities for both career and skill development offered by the AEC was the best match for my interests.
Induction week had me taken aback at the diverse business areas within the agency. I soon found myself wanting to continue learning; picking up new skill sets and expanding my knowledge of both the AEC and the wider public service. The AEC was extremely supportive of my desire to continue learning and I found the rotations offered throughout my graduate year a perfect match for my professional development.
In addition to opportunities at the AEC, the APSC's Graduate Development Program proved to be an invaluable resource to compliment the skills I was developing at work and provided a fantastic platform to build a network with graduates from other agencies.
Canberra itself can be a big change of pace, but the opportunities offered by the AEC throughout the graduate year are fantastic for those wanting to challenge themselves and build professional skills in the public service and beyond.
There were three reasons that I chose to work for the AEC.
The first was the chance to contribute to the work of an institution that is a beacon of our democracy. I was involved in electoral education program in my small community to assist people with low or no English on voting procedures, so this has been a personal interest for me.
Secondly, my involvement with university politics helped me to see the significance of a more transparent election process. This experience made me wants to contribute to measures that could improve citizens' democratic participation and strengthen the process. This shaped me to become an advocate for enfranchisement and I want to help the AEC shape and protect the democratic process.
Thirdly, history was a key factor in making the choice to join the AEC. I am more recent immigrant to Australia that came from a country where principles of democracy are seldom practiced and when it is it gets abused by politicians and electoral management bodies for their self-interests rather than for that of the citizen. When the opportunity to join the AEC graduate program was offered, it was too good to say "no" despite having received other offers from private sector.
The AEC graduate program has been the best thing I have participated in. I have developed personally and professionally. AEC graduates are given lots of opportunities to participate in exciting and practical projects, have close encounters with executives and meet people from other public service agencies.
Moving to Canberra was challenging because I had to leave all my family and close friends in Adelaide and to start a new life. It got easier as result of the close bond AEC graduates have and the support from staff. I feel more comfortable now than when I first walked through the AEC door as I embark on building more profound life and professional career in the Public sector. Thankfully, the AEC gave me that opportunity.