What's your job about?
The ATO is improving the availability, scalability, and user convenience of its systems and services. Part of this is an expansion of its use of cloud platforms and my team develops, administers, and tests a new cloud-based HR management system. We also act as the point of contact for other cloud product offerings.
Using a low-code cloud product is interesting after coming from uni where I mostly built products from scratch. Working within the same environment used by the end-users, with development tools catered specifically to my needs, gives me a much better perspective on what needs to be done at a high level while minimising some of the more tedious parts of the development.
My favourite (and most stressful) day so far was performing a demo over screen-share with stakeholders for a piece of work I was building. I guided them through an HR process I had moved into our system, showing them how to use various features, and then answered so many of their questions! They were very happy with my work, and hearing that made the stress worth it.
What's your background?
I grew up all over the place; I was born in 1993 in a tiny town called Uki near the NSW-QLD border, moved down south to a small Snowy Hydro town called Talbingo when I was around six, then moved to Tumut for high school.
I had a brief go at a Bachelor of Pharmacy at CSU in Wagga but found it definitely wasn’t for me, so I stopped studying and worked part-time for a couple of years before returning to do Information Technology in 2013. During 2014 I met my wonderful partner Renee and after a year of suffering online dating, she moved all the way from Brisbane to Wagga.
I graduated in 2015 with a very ‘informal’ career plan, felt completely lost, so mid-2016 I started my Master’s degree in IT at the University of Wollongong. I started paying a bit more attention to my career goals and found a much greater appreciation for team projects and the management side of development cycles.
I successfully completed my Master’s degree in mid-2018, and paying more attention to my career paid off! I received multiple offers from my applications including my top pick which was the ATO Graduate program. And so I moved to Canberra late 2018 for the 2019 grad program. I’m happy to be back in the cold!
I’ve been enjoying my first rotation for about five months now, and I’m eagerly looking forward to wherever my next rotation takes me.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. The system we use is low-code, sometimes even no-code, and includes development tools that take a lot of the technical skillset out of it. The cloud service provider also has a fairly extensive set of learning plans available for free on their website, including a developer instance to practice in. Most of the challenge in my work lies in understanding the system, what needs to be done, and how best to implement it. While having a technical background is an advantage, anyone good at client communication and ability to think through a problem analytically would do well.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
Solving problems. Taking a defect or requirement and figuring out not only how to implement it but how to do it in a way that makes sense, especially if it’s user-facing. Instead of just receiving a grade like at uni, I get feedback that is immediately relevant to my work. It’s always nice to hear a thank you for solving a real problem for someone.
What are the limitations of your job?
The amount of communication required, especially in an organisation as big as the ATO. You really need the motivation to constantly touch base with people. If you’re the kind of person to put off phone calls or emails, you’re going to struggle. There are no marking criteria to follow at work, and the last thing you want is to do days of work to find out it is wrong, someone has changed their mind, or they want a dozen little extras right before a release, so communication is key. On the plus side, it means there are plenty of people to ask for help.
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