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  • Hear from our graduates

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    Video testimonials

    Watch videos of our recent graduates talking about their experience in the grad program.

    Angela Tsui – Design graduate

    Angela Tsui talks about her experience as a Design grad.

    Mereen Cherian – IT graduate

    Mereen Cherian talks about her experience as an IT grad.

    Andrew Watson – Analytics graduate

    Andrew talks about his experience as an Analytics grad.

    Eleanor Ross – Human Resources graduate

    Eleanor talks about her experience as a Human Resources (HR) grad.

    Muhammad Anwar – Taxation graduate

    Muhammad talks about his experience as a Taxation grad.

    Liam Cross – Marketing graduate

    Liam talks about his experience as a Marketing grad.

    Written testimonials

    Read testimonials from recent graduates about their experiences in the following areas of the grad program:

    Induction

    Alvin Sharma – Taxation

    The Graduate program commenced with three days of induction. The induction was focused on providing new graduate officers with information on the values and structure of the ATO, an overview of the graduate program and clarification on what was expected about work rotation placements. The induction period was a fantastic opportunity to meet and get to know all of my fellow graduate program colleagues, program managers, trainers and previous participants in the program.

    Much like the numerous opportunities that were available throughout the program, the induction period served as a great step in acquainting myself with networks as well as being a chance to display professional qualities to others. For example, one of the highlights of the induction was signing up to the Foundational Leadership Program offered by the ATO to develop staff emotional intelligence qualities. Ultimately, I believe that all prospective graduates should make the most of the induction to get a good start to their career at the ATO.

    Daniel Luton – Human Resources

    On day one we met our first rotation team and got to ask them questions. We also heard from last year’s graduates. Day two consisted of a training session on Australia’s revenue and super system (4.5 hours) and an IT systems overview. We shared our goals and expectations. On day three we discussed working relationships and had a union and Toastmasters introduction. We buddied with last year’s grads from our streams and got to ask questions and chat.

    As part of the HR specific induction we also learned about the different areas within ATO People (ATOP), change management, reinvention within the ATO and client relationship management. We also met ATOP directors.

    One of the challenges was remembering everyone’s name! It seemed like an impossible task at first – especially when you were meeting new people every day. Getting on top of all the training and initial emails was also a challenge. The sooner you organise yourself and get on top of everything, the easier your days will become.

    Damien Holmes – Taxation

    When first starting the Graduate program, I was excited about the opportunity and somewhat apprehensive about working in a large sophisticated organisation. Thankfully my concerns were laid to rest early in the program, as the induction process was well communicated and impressively supported. It was very clear from the start of the program on how the program would be run, what was expected from me and what resources were available.

    The onboarding process was the best I have ever seen in the 25 years I have been in the workforce. The induction program was well structured, it ran you through the key elements of the organisation, connected you to the services, networks, groups, etc. that currently existed both locally and nationally. Also having one day a week to learn new elements of the organisation was fantastic, as I was exposed to a variety of areas in the ATO that I did not realise existed and found work that I really enjoyed that I did not expect to.

    Training

    Mendy Ellis – Taxation

    In addition to rotations in different business areas, the ATO Graduate Program also offers ongoing technical training sessions and many learning and development events such as mentorships within the organisation. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in both the 'shadowing' program and speed mentoring session, where I was able to learn more about the organisation and to receive career advice and tips from an Assistant Commissioner. These are extremely valuable and rare opportunities to enhance professional growth as well as develop networking skills. Overall, the ATO offers a tremendous level of support to its staff, particular graduates. There are many opportunities to develop and grow, and you will be mentored and guided through every step of the way with ongoing support and constant feedback. I highly recommend it!

    Rosalinda Wren – Human resources

    I believe the ongoing training and development is one of the best aspects of the graduate program. As a non-tax technical graduate, I knew very little about how tax worked (beyond the fact that I had to pay it!), so the first milestone of training was incredibly helpful to me. It focused solely on tax; how an individual tax return is calculated, what makes up each component, and relevant legislation and tax rulings.

    I was also able to complete training specific to the Human Resources stream. I participated in courses run by the Australian Human Resources Institute, met and networked with people from different teams in ATO People and furthered my knowledge of core Human resources topics and practices.

    I also worked on a number of projects with other graduates, where we researched topics relevant to the ATO and presented our findings and recommendations to key stakeholders. Working with people from various streams exposed me to different working styles, ideas, experiences and knowledge. The projects were unlike anything I had done at university because they had real life outcomes and our recommendations were actually used to shape and influence processes and organisation-wide strategies that were being developed and introduced.

    Gordon Lamond – Taxation

    Throughout our first rotation we learnt the basics of the tax system through regular training activities run by knowledgeable staff, and there was very little presumed knowledge. The trainers employed a methodology where they taught everyone at the same pace which fostered a really inclusive environment for us all to make friends.  I always felt really excited for training as it was a good break in the week, and was a great chance to catch up with other graduates.  

    As we moved into our second rotation I started feeling more confident in myself, and my abilities and the tacit tax knowledge started to become second nature.

    Andrew Watson – Analytics

    The first milestone was training about the income tax equation, which is the fundamental basis for a lot of the work we undertake. Understanding concepts such as taxable income, deductions and offsets have been essential for rotations. My two rotations had a lot of work variety. Because analytics is a multi-disciplinary field we learned about statistics software, corporate intelligence analysis and machine learning. This was combined with workplace training like the Agile and Lean methodologies, risk management and resilience. Altogether, we learned a lot of skills which will forever aid us in our careers - both in the field of analytics and in other fields we choose.

    A highlight was travelling to Sydney to be trained on 'machine learning' by Eugene Dubrosarssky with the other analytics grads from around Australia. It was an exciting introduction to an emerging technology, and it was good to meet graduates from other sites and compare experiences.

    Cheng Vuong – Taxation

    My experience as a Taxation graduate in the ATO Graduate program has been very rewarding. The highlight of the program for me has been the training and development opportunities provided through the year-long training program, milestone tasks and work rotations. I was already working at the ATO prior to starting the program, and the program has been a great opportunity to continue my professional and personal development.

    The training program covers various topics for taxation graduates including fundamentals of income tax and the taxation of business structures; and soft skills (for all graduates) including emotional intelligence and presentation skills. The four milestone tasks, which include an income tax exam (which is not as daunting as it sounds), a group project on a real-life business topic, and tasks that simulate real work undertaken at the ATO have been excellent ways to apply this training and put it into practice. The training program has been delivered by knowledgeable and experienced trainers who are to be commended for their ability to make complex tax topics easy to understand. The milestone tasks and the weekly discussion forum have been effective in consolidating my learning.

    Rotations and post program placement

    William Nim – IT

    My first rotation was based in the Superannuation Program of Work (SPOW), where I was placed in the Value Management Group (VMG). There is a huge amount of work that SPOW release, and it is up to the VMG to estimate the effort, priorities, and scheduling of development items, so that it can effectively distributed among the SPOW scrum teams.

    This rotation provided me with a taste of how project management is handled within the ATO. My placement in this team revealed the wide range of teams across the ATO and how they collaborate with one another to implement work items.

    For my second rotation, I was placed in the Business Automation Team (BAT). The team develops applications and automated solutions for business areas within the ATO, and maintains these applications after delivery to the client.

    In this team, I was given the sole responsibility of developing various applications for clients. I was given a lot of freedom with developing applications as the requirements gathering, solution design, programming, testing, and maintenance are done by individual application developers. The BAT provided me with a huge opportunity to improve my application development skills as well as help out ATO staff by making their processes more efficient.

    Beth Schiller – Taxation

    One of the best aspects of the ATO graduate program is the opportunity to network with staff in different streams and on different hierarchical levels. Everyone places high value on graduates and puts in extra effort to ensure they are exposed to different varieties and complexities of work. By completing different rotations, we have the opportunity to expand our knowledge and skills that can set us up to be transferrable to many different areas.

    As an accounting graduate, my first rotation was in a finance team, assisting with internal Financial Statements for the ATO. There were also other projects within the team, such as analytics templates, implementing new accounting requirements in our procedures, and monitoring purchases/sales of assets within the ATO.

    My second rotation was assisting with new policy proposals to improve the tax system for small businesses and individuals. This was completely different to my first rotation which was great because I had the opportunity to be exposed to different lines of work. This work also required regular liaison with other business lines in the ATO, as well as The Treasury.

    My post program placement is in the Revenue Analysis Branch which involves undertaking policy costings, forecasting, and a range of data collection projects. This team regularly liaises with The Treasury and Parliament House so, again, there are plenty of networking opportunities both inside the ATO and with other departments.

    Joshua Kempster – Analytics

    As a maths grad straight out of uni, I had no experience in the professional workforce, however over the course of the graduate program the transition couldn’t have been easier. I’ve been part of two teams over the course of the year – data governance and data science.

    One of the greatest things about working as one of the roughly 20,000 employees of the ATO is that you can have a diverse career within the one organisation. Coming into the Graduate program I hadn’t really formed any expectations; however I didn’t expect to be writing proposals, running team retrospectives, making animated videos and initiating a new SharePoint page for Smarter Data external learning events all within the first few months. I’ve been exposed to the advantages and challenges of working in a big organisation both from experiencing it myself and from observing the team and enjoyed the process.

    As part of the Graduate program you’ll get to experience two rotations in different areas of the organisation. My second rotation was in Data Science where I began to get my teeth into some big datasets. This was a huge eye-opener. Millions of rows and hundreds of columns are pretty standard in the ATO, considering the size of the populations that we analyse. I’ve been learning hands on about some of the latest data science techniques and have often been required to invent my own due to the unique characteristics of some of ATO data.

    As a STEM graduate, I even had the chance to travel interstate four times over the year for various reasons – from training courses delivered by experts in data science to networking opportunities with grads from other agencies. There have been so many opportunities to get involved in projects, tasks and clubs outside of the scope of my role, within the ATO and across the Australian Public Service. These have helped to broaden my experiences and skills in new areas.

    Jessica Chal – Taxation

    My first rotation was in superannuation – private rulings and interpretive advice. This involved a range of responsibilities including interpreting legislations, drafting a private ruling that would allow or decline the taxpayer’s request or influence a decision about their superannuation issues. Being able to draft my own private ruling and have ownership in it was challenging but also a very rewarding learning experience.  During my rotation in the superannuation team, I had been assigned a mentor and a supervisor. They were very supportive and guided me to understand more about our taxation and superannuation system.

    My second rotation was in the Small Business-Assurance Team where the graduates had a chance to contribute to the Black Economy Taskforce. We undertook a range of tasks from planning and contributing the Black Economy project to conducting the actual walk-ins itself.  In addition, we also had a chance to profile, audit tax gap cases and attended the audit interviews during the second rotation. This had allowed us to expose to various types of tax technical work and meet face to face with our clients.

    Anne Marie McKenzie – Analytics

    Entering the Graduate program was daunting, but being assigned a program manager helped tremendously with transitioning into work at the ATO. The program is a great way to get a feel for the different areas of the ATO and learn where you fit best. My first rotation was in Enterprise Analytics, Smarter Data. A typical day would involve a stand-up meeting with the team where everyone updates on their work progress and problems they are having, followed by finding, gathering, interpreting and displaying data to other departments of the organisation.

    My second rotation was in Data Science, Smarter Data. I worked on larger scale projects, and a typical day was filled with more research and model building than rotation one. I was able to utilise my university skills including the intricacies of data storage in warehouses, languages used to query that data and statistics. I have had regular capability meetings with my program manager to make sure I’m on track and they are also available to reach out to whenever you need them.

    Clare Mahney – Taxation

    My rotations included working in the Small Business Integrity team and the Corporate Policy team. The type of work varied greatly between these two teams, and both were important to my personal and professional development. I was provided with great mentorship by my colleagues from both teams and was given the opportunity to contribute to meaningful pieces of work.

    In the Small Business Integrity team I learnt how to comprehensively profile taxpayers for review or audit and supported my colleagues with profiling, casework and preparing submissions. This was a multi-disciplinary external-facing team that worked in an interesting and important area of taxpayer compliance.

    Client contact experience

    James Barker – Taxation

    As a finance/accounting graduate the contact centre rotation was a great opportunity to get my head out of analysing numbers contained within numerous returns and putting a voice to the taxpayers we interact with on a daily basis.

    We were eased into the rotation with two weeks of non-call training, then given our own dedicated desk to begin answering inbound calls. During the course of the rotation we assisted a wide range of taxpayers; from those who were fourteen and just starting work who were wondering about the status of their TFN application, to those who were past retirement age looking to find out if we had any of their lost super. In situations where the scripting might not be clear in resolving a curly issue our helpful mentors were a raised hand away.

    The pizza day and end of rotation catch up were great opportunities to meet graduates who worked at other sites. At the end of my desk there was a fundraising esky- so fatigue was never an issue with a chocolate bar or soft drink two steps and a gold coin away!

    Scott Seow – Taxation

    The client contact rotation – while dreaded at first by many of us – turned out to be a very valuable part of the Graduate program. The client contact experience allowed me to really interact with the general public; dealing with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, age groups and circumstances. Furthermore, it helped me become very familiar with ATO systems, which is a valuable skill in any business line within the ATO. It was a very different experience from speaking to tax agents, and really puts into perspective the type of people that we should be considering during the course of our work.

    The main challenge during the client contact rotation for me was picking up the first phone call. Despite the weeks of training provided, I felt quite hesitant taking the first call. I remember opening as many pages as I could to anticipate the first call, which didn’t really help. The best way to go about it is to just take the plunge and use the ‘hold’ function when you need to (which will initially be a lot), and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Graduate debate

    Ben McCarthy – Taxation

    I had the opportunity to go to Canberra for the Graduate debate during the year, as part of a team of grads from three different states to compete against graduates from other Canberra based agencies. That experience was a fantastic way to meet other graduates and some of the ATO’s executive staff.

    The other graduates that entered the program with me are a great group, there’s always someone around to lend a hand and always something going on after work on Fridays.

    Social events

    Liam Cross – Canberra

    Engaging in social events in your graduate year is a must! Not only are social events a great chance to meet those on the same journey as you, but they are also an excellent opportunity to network with many former graduates. Start building a network that will stick with you throughout your career. There are always heaps of events to pick from – from local site initiatives to graduate social events (and everything in-between). You just need to take the plunge and get involved!

    Harriet Thorne – Hobart

    A range of social events were offered throughout our graduate year. Each site has a social club that runs a number of events, including quiz nights where graduates usually enter a team every year. Other events include wine tours, barefoot bowls and an end of year Christmas party.

    The social club in Hobart also hosts a Friday night happy hour which is widely attended by graduates. It is a great networking opportunity with both past graduates and colleagues from other areas of the ATO. Happy hour also has themed, seasonal events such as Halloween, Octoberfest and the AFL Grand Final. Site events include frequent fundraisers ranging from morning teas to bring your dog to work day. Rotation team lunches are a good socialising event and provide the opportunity to get to know your team.

    Lyna Nguyen – Adelaide

    Social events are been organised throughout the year to celebrate special events and achievements such as graduate birthdays and completion of milestone assessments. We also have opportunities to grow our professional network by connecting with past graduates and other ATO staff to learn more about their experiences. The social events are important as they allow grads to network, and learn and grow on a professional and social level.

    Andrew Proudley – Wollongong

    As a graduate it has been very easy to get involved in the various social and site events within my office. Our graduate cohort regularly went out for drinks on completion of various milestone tasks. We also joined the local Green Team and became involved in the promotion of green activities within the site; running an event for National Tree Day, and a large site expo. Within the IT stream there were also morning teas held monthly for everyone on site to catch up and foster new relationships between teams.

    Peter Mercurio – Adelaide

    The social side of the ATO is what makes the organisation even more of a joy to be a part of. The ATO boasts a wide range of social activities organised internally from end of the month drinks to basketball and pool tournaments. The Adelaide sites Franklin St Social Club is behind all things social within the ATO and they do an excellent job of keeping people together and driving a buzzing and exciting workplace. What I have learnt to be an important aspect of your growth within the organisation is networking, and these social events are a great way to meet new people from within your workplace and build lasting relationships.

    Last modified: 25 Jul 2019QC 49428