Alison - 2010 Graduate Program

Alison
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Background

Home State: Australian Capital Territory
University: Australian National University
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

At university I majored in international relations and history, gaining honours in history in 2009 with a thesis that examined the role of advisory bodies in Australian post-war immigration. Seemingly a strange fit for the department of environment but in my third rotation I managed to find a position working on the role of advisory bodies in world heritage - not vastly different.

This department appealed above all due to its position as a guardian for our future - the positive role of this department in environment, water, heritage or the arts is to preserve these assets for future generations while allowing us to enjoy them today. With a generalist degree, which honed my skills in research and policy development, I was drawn to the breadth of the department and its friendly reputation. I have not been disappointed.

Placements

First Placement: New South Wales Priority Projects, Irrigation Efficiency Branch, Water Efficiency Division

My first placement offered a number of challenges as I sought to get my head around hydrology, irrigation modernisation and procurement processes. My friendly colleagues were, however, patient with the lost arts graduate and I gradually gained confidence and interest in the important work of the division. By assisting irrigators to modernise and diverting water savings back into the environment, this section is working to help secure the economic and environmental future of the Murray-Darling Basin.

My growing understanding of the importance of this division's work revealed to me the range of positions within the department I could be involved and interested in, despite my seemingly limited background.

Second Placement: Economics and Strategic Policy, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy and Communications Division

For my second rotation I was lucky enough to secure a position conducting an innovation graduate project in response to a request from the minister. The high level work involved in this placement gave me exposure to staff of all levels from across the department.

In partnership with my supervisor, I was given broad scope to guide the direction and form of the innovation project. Seeing the significant results and exposure achieved within a three month period was extremely satisfying, as was the department's recognition of the importance of the project and willingness to take it forward.

Third Placement: International Heritage, International Heritage and Policy Branch, Heritage Division

My work in international heritage allowed me to finally bring my studies in international relations and history into my work. This interesting placement supported Australia's position on the World Heritage Committee so I was able to legitimately indulge my curiosity about World Heritage sites. The combination of foreign affairs with the World Heritage Convention's aim to preserve the world's best natural and cultural heritage sites ensured my ongoing fascination with all aspects of this position.

'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'