Updating Results

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Communications

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Harrison Martin

Within my current position, I am responsible for developing evidence-based policy on different topics affecting the major infrastructure market.

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?

I started my time with the Department through the Graduate Development Program in 2018. I rotated through three very different sections over the course of the program, getting exposure to policy, regulatory and corporate functions of government. I finally landed in the Market Conditions team in the Infrastructure Investment division.

How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?

I considered a number of different professions after leaving university, but ultimately settled on a role in government, as I believed my work would have an impact in the decision making of government. Ultimately I did consider other departments, however, the interesting projects and responsibilities of the Department of Infrastructure’s portfolio was definitely a big factor in my final decision.

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

I have undertaken a significant number of interviews since leaving university. While you certainly start to notice patterns in the process, each interview is different in its own way.

My interview process for my current position was one of the more enjoyable I have attended. The interview took the form of a panel interview with four representatives from the Department on one side of the table and myself on the other. The interviewers were enthusiastic and you could see they wanted the candidates to give the best of themselves. They sought further clarification on technical answers provided to them, which is the best indication they are really interested in you.

The questions asked were not generally specific to my academic or professional background, rather focused on broader issues like problem solving, stakeholder management and behavioural attributes.

What does your employer do?

The Department is responsible for designing and implementing the Australian Government’s infrastructure, transport, regional development and cities policies, programs and regulations. This supports the government in achieving a strong economy and thriving communities, now and for the future.

The Department delivers against five purposes through eight Budget programs:

  • Supporting economic growth through transport
  • Making travel safer
  • Increasing transport access
  • Supporting regional development, local communities and cities
  • Providing good governance in the territories

What are your areas of responsibility?

Within my current position, I am responsible for developing evidence-based policy on different topics affecting the major infrastructure market.

Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?

The work is very diverse in my current section, with one day rarely being the same as the last. The last thing I worked on was a market intelligence gathering exercise to help the Department form a position on an issue affecting the contracting of major infrastructure projects which has gained recent attention.

What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?

The Department offers a wide range of roles and the Australian Public Service offers an even more expansive set of opportunities. Outside of government, the skill set I hold would have broader applications in the resource and construction sectors, and a good knowledge of the workings of government would put you in a desirable position to enter one of these fields.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?

Short answer is I don’t really know, which I suppose either speaks to a lack of ambition, or the fact that I am very happy where I am at the moment.

What do you love most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?

In addition to being fortunate enough to be in a knowledge-rich and caring team, I have also managed to land in a section that is influential in the decisions of government. This means there is an emphasis on research and ensuring the policy advice provided is sound in its evidence base.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

Given the broad range of topics the team works on and the relative short turnaround time there often isn’t the time to research a task as much as you would like.

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

  • Don’t count yourself out! The first year I applied for graduate programs, I only applied for specific positions that aligned very closely to my studies (I wouldn’t discourage this approach, just remember these organisations often have an abundance of people with a similar skill set to yourself). The second time I applied more broadly and I was successful. While my Department may not traditionally be considered a STEM-heavy environment, I find myself using the critical thinking, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and general numeracy skills obtained from my degree on a daily basis. It is in the best interest of government and yourself to apply for less traditional STEM focused departments. Good evidence-based policy should always contain an element of quantitative analysis, and I fear for the future of departments that allow the skill sets required to undertake it, to erode.
  • Take note of the questions you are being asked! There is a lot to be said for interview experience; inevitably over enough interviews, you will start to encounter similar questions. You should take the time to reflect on the key themes the questions are trying to get to the heart of, and start to form a sound standard response to these questions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your own questions.
  • Never miss an opportunity to learn a new skill! If you do find yourself in a position that doesn’t utilise the skills obtained in you degree, take the time to learn as much of the new subject matter as you can. Well rounded skill sets are an increasingly valuable commodity among Australian Public Service staff.