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Would I be able to ask for some advice please.
Old 12-05-2008, 01:18 AM   #1
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Would I be able to ask for some advice please.

I am in need of some advice if anyone is willing to offer.

I have gained a place in what we call a 'Graduate Program' with the an Australian government department. What it is, is a job open to people who have a degree but little work experience that serves as an entry level program for new recruits to the public service.

We get 3 rotations in different area's of the department with our first rotation being the place we are offered permenant employment.

My aim was to get into a policy position and use the experience and research experience to help me become an Economist.

Unfortunately I have been assigned to the area that pretty much supports the rest of the department. Deals with HR, IT, financial management, corporate support and communications.

I'm really shell shocked and puzzled as to what I should do. They made it sound like we would be doing policy and research, when for all I know I could end up in a call center or as someone's admin (which would be fine in a policy area).

If I hadn't have gotten this job I would be doing some postgraduate studies in Economics. I don't know if I can use this job as a foot in the door and transfer to a policy area or if I could end up getting stigmatised as an admin or end up as a secretary or something.

I don't know what I should do. Dreading the thought of going to canberra and ending up ordering staples and getting spoken to like I am a piece of crap by someone I am ordering flights for... I don't know if I could handle that.

Sounds like being back in retail..

This is supposed to be my traineeship and introduction to my career. I could go back to school and improve my chances of getting what I want. I don't really understand how all of this works so I need some advice from older more experienced people.

Feeling ripped off if they'd told me it was an entry level admin job but will be a foot in the door I would have been positive about it. Only now they got my hopes up and I am having trouble feeling positive about the whole thing. Because I've already been in a graduate program it might hinder my chances of becoming an economist.
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:40 AM   #2
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....
I don't know what I should do. Dreading the thought of going to canberra and ending up ordering staples and getting spoken to like I am a piece of crap by someone I am ordering flights for... I don't know if I could handle that....
Welcome, Ausaus24, I haven’t seen your previous posts. The thing that comes to mind about your j*b offer is that maybe you can accept it on a probationary basis, three months for both sides to figure out if it will work out. Or maybe get a clearer idea of the exact j*b description.

I might deal with a dread of ordering flights for others by ordering another kind of flight, that is a “flight of wine.” What are Wine Flights?

Just kidding. Best of luck, let us know how it works out.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:49 AM   #3
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Thank you for the reply. I know it was only a joke but it still wasn't a very nice thing to say. You gotta be careful with stuff like that because people are sensitive and you can really cause a lot of harm to someone's day. Personally I couldn't give a damn, but just saying.

Seriously, I need advice. I'm committing myself to a job I have no idea what I will be doing, only with the possibility it could be in some sort of Admin. Which is bloody useless to me other than as a foot in the door.

There are other openings and I am seriously considering what to do next. Very stressed out. I'll probably regret posting all of this but I am stressing over it rather badly.
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:39 AM   #4
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Ausaus

I am not familiar with how gov't depts work in Canberra, but I am somewhat familiar with career advice. Point 1) it is rare to get into a senior level role when you have little experience. I would call a "policy" development role pretty senior, and it would involve a lot more than a knowledge of economics. Point 2) In most career areas, a lot of ...let me recall how they say it in Aus..."nose down, a$$ up" work, done well, with ambition and real genuine interest usually gets you noticed. The better you perform the more opportunities you get. You need to know that there are a lot of people out there who will try to brown-nose their way into opportunities. And unfortunately you will find that even with the best work, the best performance, some bosses will simply not give opportunities to those who aren't willing to get their nose a little brown once in a while.

My suggestion is to take the role, support though it may be, and do your best to slot yourself into the policy area when you rotate. In the meantime, nose down, bum up, and show your mettle. If you are worth your mettle you'll get the job you want eventually. (One thing I usually tell 2nd &3rd year students in lectures I do at a uni is that they have to decide their goal, figure out what it takes to reach it, and then figure out if they are willing to do what it takes. In this case, I would put forth that the support role is one of the the things you will have to decide if you are or aren't willing to do, to eventually reach your goal. If you aren't, you may need to rethink your goal).

PM me if you have any more specific questions, will do my best to provide a valuable answer.

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Old 12-05-2008, 07:45 AM   #5
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Have you asked any colleagues about what they thought? They might have a better idea as to what would advance your career than I would.

In general, I have never felt as negative as you do towards a job that I ended up taking. I would assume that you have been putting a lot of effort into your job search for some time, and that this was the best job you could come up with. If not, you owe it to yourself to do a more intensive job search.

There are other jobs in the world.
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:51 AM   #6
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Get another job if this one isn't what you want. It is just that simple. And I'd advise being less easily offended. CuppaJoe wasn't trying to hurt your feelings. Plus, if you are young, you might have to earn your way up the ladder. No one starts out at the top (or even the middle) of the food chain. Ordering flights might be better than digging ditches, if you know what I mean.
Best of luck! We've all been there, just starting out.
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:52 AM   #7
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What department is it with as for me unless it is one of the better ones like Finance, Treasury to DFAT I would probably pass it by. However, what Department you are offered is normally based on what they consider the ranking of the graduate to be. What is your undergrad degree in? What is your long term career goal? You say you want to be an Economist but who for? I used to work for DFAT and used to hang around a lot of the Treasury guys and they all did very well from their experience. A lot of them moved on to work for politicians or merchant banks.

However if you are having a panic attack at this early stage this just might not be for you. What you have to remember is you may not get what you want from day 1, but often hard work can result in you getting what you want in the long term.
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:25 PM   #8
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Read What Color Is Your Parachute?". Perhaps it's not the job you want, but it may lead to the job you want. Learn from it, and take away what you like and don't like about it, and use that knowledge of yourself in the future. Almost everyone has to start out in an entry-level position. They are sometimes not fun, but can lead to something that is. Realize that the job you take right out of college is almost certainly not the one you will be doing for the rest of your life.

This is sometimes referred to as "paying your dues".
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:23 PM   #9
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Thank you for the advice I apologize for my abrupt attitude.

The first problem is that I am used to getting bullshitted by employers. I don't trust them.

They usually say you have career prospects and room to move around in just about anything. Usually it is within a very limited area. I worked for a major bank. My role was sales and there was nothing I could ever do in that organization that wasn't related to my initial stream of employment. Otherwise I needed to go for a Graduate program. Very much an us and them mentality. We were just scum.

Say with the new job I end up in HR (which I agree,wouldn't be horrible) apply for transfers to policy and don't get it on the grounds other people who have been through a policy grad program have more experience. Stay there for a couple of years, leave, go back to school and do my postgraduate study, write my thesis and start applying again.

They'll be asking why were you working in HR ? You don't have any research experience, and you cannot show us that you can write effectively (which is why I was told to look for a policy job).There are also more experienced people in Economics applying for APS 4 Economics jobs and I get rejected there too.

I go for another Graduate program... and they won't take me on because I have already completed one. Pardon my language but I see no reason why the APS would not be influenced by the snob factors.

My option is to drop this job. Go back to school and get my Postgraduate study done then re-apply. I was hoping to be able to do this job for a couple of years, earn a lot of money (the pay is around 48k plus 15 % super goes up to 55k after one year) then go and do post graduate study with some helpful work experience behind me.

For the record I don't expect to be a merchant banker or to be getting a job with the RBA or Treasury anytime soon. I'd like to acquire the necessary skills to make it happen down the track, but right now it is just not realistic.

What I want is a job that is related to economics or policy with a reasonable salary and to not be a S.kicker in some sort of service or pseudo service position.

'Working your way up' strikes me as a classic ploy to get someone in a shitty position to work hard for you. Honestly I just do not know where I stand. I've got nothing against grunt work if it is going to lead me somewhere I want to go. Often I have found there are very clear distinctions between the grunts, and the important people which can be a very difficult, if not impossible barrier to break through. It also matters what sort of a time frame we're talking about. If it is 7 years ? I should probably get some stronger qualifications and re-apply.

The other thing to consider is whatever happens this is a very good job compared to what I am used to. As it will be a standard 37.5 hours a week, with pay for overtime in an office. With that in mind I really cannot turn it down but I need to be mindful of my career goals and if I am destroying them.
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:32 PM   #10
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The other thing to consider is whatever happens this is a very good job compared to what I am used to. As it will be a standard 37.5 hours a week, with pay for overtime in an office. With that in mind I really cannot turn it down but I need to be mindful of my career goals and if I am destroying them.
Given that it's been estimated that people entering the workforce now will have worked in 20 jobs by the time they are 38, I hardly think you are locking yourself in for life.

Work is a transaction. If you want to earn the money, you have to do the job, and sometimes it may not be the job you want. Your call.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:31 PM   #11
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What department is it with as for me unless it is one of the better ones like Finance, Treasury to DFAT I would probably pass it by. However, what Department you are offered is normally based on what they consider the ranking of the graduate to be. What is your undergrad degree in? What is your long term career goal? You say you want to be an Economist but who for? I used to work for DFAT and used to hang around a lot of the Treasury guys and they all did very well from their experience. A lot of them moved on to work for politicians or merchant banks.

However if you are having a panic attack at this early stage this just might not be for you. What you have to remember is you may not get what you want from day 1, but often hard work can result in you getting what you want in the long term.
I originally wanted to work for DEWR. Treasury would be my first pick but it isn't realistic at this stage. I'm with DOHA so I'll aim to become a health Economist. Being honest I'm not really confident I have the ability to work for a merchant bank or anything like that interms of interpersonal skills and probably technical ability.

I'll need to do a post graduate diploma and write my thesis before I could be considered an economist anyway. Which is somethng I'd need to take a break from the APS for, but was hoping to pick up some relevant experience and make some money on the way.

If I work in the department for a while doing whatever, then go to continue my education in 2-3 years do you think it would greatly hurt my chances of getting picked up by a better department in a better position ?

That is another option too, I have to do something different for a few years. Maybe I should just take an easy gov job and chill out for a few years. Take some online math and econometrics units to boost my knowledge ?
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:13 AM   #12
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Why not ask for Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" for your holiday gift?

He makes the point that, to be successful at anything, you need to spend 10,000 hours doing it.
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Old 12-06-2008, 10:18 AM   #13
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If your true desire is to do Economic Policy work, you need the advanced degree, minimum masters, but probably Doctorate. If you look at the job postings in the back of the Economist magazine, and other such publications, you will see that advanced degrees are required for most such jobs. Also, graduate work will expose you to levels of business and government where you are more likely to get referred via the "old boy" network that is so much a part of this world.
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:35 AM   #14
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standard 37.5 hours a week, with pay for overtime in an office
Okay, that indicates this is not a policy job. This is a gopher. But what did you expect? You're going to spend about three months before being rotated out to the next assignment. In three months, including the time to learn what goes on there, there's no way you are going to make meaningful policy decisions.

That being said, this sounds like a choice program and you'd be crazy not to take it. Meaningful policy jobs are given to people with experience, academic credentails, hard work (usually) and positive attitudes. Meaningful policy jobs are given to people with less than usual experience if they are exceedingly hard workers with great attitudes who are known as go-getters. This whole setup is an invitation to become one of those people. Take the job, do your assigned rotations well (not just adequate - really do a good job) and while you are doing so drift over to the policy guys you REALLY want to work for and let them know you are interested. Ask if they have any research tasks or scut work they want done. Knock their socks off.

Internal transfers are your friend and about the only way to get meaningful policy work unless you are already an acknowledged expert in your field. Positive attitude is often a decising factor. Work hard. Extra hard. Super hard. And be smilingly positive about your opportunities to see what all the depts do.

You are right about companies looking out for their own interest - not yours. Make youself such a good contributor that it's in their interest to give you what you want. This kind of fast track rotation program seems like an awfully good opportunity to start.
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Old 12-06-2008, 05:02 PM   #15
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I understand no graduate is doing meaningful policy work. What is concerning is that the area I am in does not do it at all.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:31 PM   #16
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Okay, that indicates this is not a policy job. This is a gopher.
All APS jobs are like that, you do overtime you get to take time off. Even the high level jobs are set up that way. Not sure about executive level positions, maybe they're different, but I have never seen a policy officer position that is at the executive level.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:40 PM   #17
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I've calmed myself down. My only concern now is that if I take this job and continue my education after a year or two that this job will serve as a sort of black mark and make it difficult for me to get into a more technical role.

My plan is to study some Econometrics online and then do a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics. We have a very different education system to the USA.
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Old 12-07-2008, 01:52 AM   #18
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I don't think this job will be a "stain" on your resume per se. It's always good to be exposed to an industry you're interested in, even if it's just trivial work. Even "brainless" jobs I took gave me insights into things I didn't know before. Maybe you will also build up some connections/networks.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:22 AM   #19
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OK, I've bit my lip enough and, as a 'fellow' Australian, I feel I have both the life and long-term local cultural experience to comment.

ausaus24, you are coming across as a typical 'I want it now because I deserve it' gen-Y'er! Get a grip sport, you are fresh out of the oven, you know nothing about 'life' other than what you have been 'taught' through your 'training'. Fact is, life ain't like that, deal with it and get used to it!

Those who are in policy-making positions, nomatter where in the world or what industry/sphere-of-influence, have far more life-experience than you. In fact, they have actually experienced some life. OTOH, you have experienced next to diddly-squat. As a somewhat 'leathery' member of society, well into my fifth decade, I'm rather glad that those of your life-experience are not in a position to influence 'policy' in any sphere, at least not until your ears are completely dry, especially in the non-frontal regions.

My advice is (completely gratuitous and no doubt entirely ignorable because of my age), buckle down, take what is on offer, learn from it and use it to spring-board yourself to the next level. But be under no doubt, your current worth to policy-making, indeed society in general, is pretty much insignificant!

Your 'superiors' are not your 'superiors' because of the snob-values, it's because they are, well, superior to you, in both knowledge and experience. A somewhat alien concept I gather, but non-the-less true, they actually know more than you do!

Gee, I enjoyed getting that off my chest

p.s. ausaus24 - using Australian-specific acronyms on a US-based forum, is bound to have the majority of posters scratching their heads or frantically using Google. Example - APS (Australian Public Service) is meaningless to those not in the APS!
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:05 AM   #20
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Interview people who do the job and work in the dept. Try to talk to people in that organization.

But do not limit your conversations to them. Identify some similar govt organizations and talk to people that do that type of job there.

Seek candid responses. Ask the questions (have a list). Do not be afraid to ask questions that are your primary concerns.

In the end, you take a risk when you take a job. If you take it and it does not seem to be what you want... begin looking for another job as soon as you can. Investing too much time on a job you do not like has a way of locking you in.
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