Updating Results

NSW Government

  • > 100,000 employees

Sarah Aldrich

I decided to work for the NSW Government as I knew I would perform best if I was passionate about my work and confident that it would have a positive impact on the people of NSW and the environment.

What did you study?

I started off studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney but after two years decided this wasn’t for me and transferred to a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology. I graduated in 2018 from the University of Sydney. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in northern Sydney and went to Lane Cove Public School and then Hornsby Girls High School. During university, I worked for two Before and After School Care companies as an educator and supervisor. I’ve also worked in nearly every state and federal election since I turned 18. I volunteered as a mentor at university and have volunteered with the St Vincent De Paul Society for a few years now which I love. I’ve always done sport, from competitive Western horse riding to friendly netball competitions. 

How did you get to your current job position?

After I decided to become a veterinarian wasn’t for me I started to brainstorm what kind of career I might like to pursue. I was immediately attracted to jobs in the public sector and discovered the NSW Government Graduate Program and applied. I started in the Program in February 2019 at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE.) 

How did you choose your specialisation?

I decided to work for the NSW Government as I knew I would perform best if I was passionate about my work and confident that it would have a positive impact on the people of NSW and the environment. I knew working in the public sector would allow me many opportunities for progression and movement into different teams, branches, and departments, and that I would have a good work-life balance and stable employment with a competitive salary. 

I was contemplating completing postgraduate study but realised that I would be able to complete a Master's degree and work at the same time as flexible working is a great feature of working in the public sector. I have not yet chosen my specialisation but have enjoyed my work in policy, so will likely pursue this path. 

What was your interview process like?

The interview process was exhaustive but well worth it and pretty standard for a graduate program. You start off by submitting an initial application, then go on to complete a psychometric test, personality test, an online written task and a video interview, before attending the assessment centre. In the assessment centre, there was a group activity where my group had to discuss strategies for the implementation of a shared community green space in the CBD of Sydney. There was also an interview which consisted of capability-based questions relating to the role and also values-based questions. 

What does your employer do?

My team at DPIE is working on developing the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan (CPCP) for the bio-certification of growth areas in Western Sydney. This involves strategically planning the location and management of conservation sites which offset the damage caused by development in growth areas. This involves research, policy writing, and engagement with a wide array of stakeholders. 

What are your areas of responsibility?

In my role at DPIE, my main responsibilities include helping create, edit and update the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting framework for the CPCP, and helping manage the team’s relationships with our stakeholders and delivery partners. I acted as the single point of contact between the branch and a consultancy firm and acted as secretariat at a weekly meeting with them. I conducted a lot of research projects when I was in the branch from researching the potential use of blockchain technology for our project to researching possible survey methods for the different threatened species in our project area. 

Can you describe a typical workday?

A typical workday involves going through my emails, attending meetings about projects and undertaking specific tasks and spreadsheets related to my work at that time. I sometimes have a quick chat with my manager about my progress, and like to lunch with the other graduates and try to work on my Diploma of Government.

What are the career prospects with your job?

The Graduate Program offers a stepping stone to a career in the public sector. After we successfully complete the Program, we are offered a permanent role in our home agency (mine being DPIE). The Graduate Program allows the grounding to apply for jobs in different agencies and in the private sector. The skills I have learnt so far in the Program will be applicable to many different roles.  

What do you love the most about your job?

I love that my job allows me to make a difference in the lives of the people of NSW and the environment in NSW. I love that my job allows me to have a good work-life balance, mentoring, networking, training and skill development. I also love that I am exposed to a wide variety of different tasks and my managers have both really tried to help me develop my skills in my areas of interest. 

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

Having three six-month rotations is good for access to a variety of tasks and workplaces – it can feel a little difficult moving as you feel as though you are just getting the hang of everything before you are moved to another place, but this does not detract from the Program. In the way of stress, I bear a level of responsibility suitable for me and if I ever need help with anything, I am always able to get support from my team. 

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  • I know how daunting applying for graduate jobs can be but just remember to go into interviews confident in yourself with a smile on your face. Make sure you prepare a list of different examples you have from university/work/life and have them in your mind to be able to answer the interview questions to the best of your ability. Also, make sure you know the STAR method of answering questions before your interview. 
  • Don’t think that because university is over that fun is over too. Working can be super fun and there is something magical about coming home to no assignments to do in the evening. Graduate programs provide lots of opportunities for socialising as you spend a lot of time networking with other graduates, others in the young professional network and your colleagues. 
  • Don’t let work consume your entire life. You may be super passionate about it and your career development but your happiness should come first. Make sure you have enough time to spend with your family and friends and to relax and do things that you love.