My day starts with an alarm clock startling me awake. It can be sometimes difficult to get up so early – especially during the cold Canberra winters – but I’m trying to maintain my routine. Plus I know that my day will start off much better with some early morning endorphins.
All defence staff (military and civilian) receive free access to all defence gyms across the country – and this is something I try to take full advantage of! The gym at work is just as well-equipped as your standard, commercial gym, and being located at work is certainly an added bonus. I’ll often go with the friends I’ve made at work.
I aim to be showered, changed and sitting at my desk by now, reading through the open-source news and classified reporting on any events that may have happened overnight. If anything has occurred in my analytic area, it will be my responsibility to write up a quick First Impressions item to be briefed to Defence senior staff – such as the Chief of Defence Force and the Department Secretary – later that morning.
It’s time for my first meeting of the day, in which my team is looking at a particular national security issue as a part of a whole-of-government initiative. As a scientific analyst, my role is to contribute my subject matter expertise where relevant during the meeting, using my knowledge to help inform our assessment which will be passed on to key decision-makers and policymakers throughout government.
Straight after the meeting, we all head to the weekly Director’s briefs. In these, three or four analysts from across DIO present a short, detailed brief on a topic or issue that they have been researching. The briefs are often super interesting and engaging and can be an excellent way to discover the diverse range of analytic areas DIO covers.
Lunchtime! My grad cohort tries to get outside for lunch when we’ve got more time we can even go for a walk around Lake Burley-Griffin.
After lunch, I settle back in at my desk and begin working on my long-term project. Working in the Counter-Proliferation & Terrorism (CP&T) Branch, we analyse the capabilities and threats from countries of concern in the areas of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. This means I get to use my degree every day, applying it in order to better understand weapons of mass destruction programs around the world.
It’s time for a tradecraft session. These are structured brainstorming sessions where we use analytical techniques to help us undertake a deep dive into an analytical topic that my colleague is currently researching. These meetings are a lot of fun, as we get to brainstorm a lot of interesting potential courses of action for some really cool problem sets.
After the tradecraft session, it’s time to wrap up for the day. This is a late finish for me, normally I would try to finish around 3.30 pm in order to maintain a seven and a half hour workday. I spend a little bit of time going through my emails, see if anything has come up during the day, and begin preparing my 'to-do' list for tomorrow. Due to the classified nature of my work, I am unable to take work home with me – it’s such a great feeling knowing that when you step out of the office at the end of the day, your time is your own.
I have basketball training this evening – normally I will have some form of sport or social activity after work. It’s so good to relax after a busy day.
I’m beginning to wind down now. After fixing myself a quick meal, it’s into my evening routine: shower, pack for the following day followed by some Netflix or a good book before bed. And before I know it it’s time to do it all again!