What’s your name and job title?
Jodie Lam – technology & innovation graduate.
What did you study? When did you graduate?
I completed a Bachelor of Information Technology Co-operative Program at the University Of Technology Sydney (UTS) and graduated in May 2018.
Where did you grow up? What have been some pivotal moments in your life in regards to your education and career?
I was born and raised in Cabramatta, a small suburb known for its rich culture in Sydney. I attended Liverpool Girls’ High School and it was a pivotal moment in my life where I grew independent, became more studious and got the opportunity to be a part of the Senior Student Leadership Council. Following high school, I was accepted into university and this was an important milestone because in 2016 it gave me the opportunity to go overseas for the first time through a UTS BUiLD Internship Program to Japan. Having grown up in Sydney all my life, it was an eye-opening experience to immerse in a completely different culture and learn another language. This experience motivated me to get more experience whilst I was still at university, and I managed to complete several more internships during my degree at WiseTech Global, Vivant Digital and the Australians Security Investments Commission.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
I have been working as a technology & innovation graduate at TAL since the beginning of 2017. TAL was one of the program sponsors for the degree I was completing at UTS. I was curious to get to know more about TAL since I had heard good things about them. I reached out to one of the managers running the Tech & Innovation Graduate Program, who arranged for me to talk to a senior manager from the IT department. From that conversation, I applied for TAL’s Graduate Program, went through the application process and was successful in attaining the graduate position.
How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
When I was applying for graduate roles, I was weighing up specialisations in IT and product. In the end, I decided IT would be a better specialisation since it was what I studied at university. I also wanted to get more experience in the IT field considering it is so broad and there are so many opportunities.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
The interview process was comfortable and the interviewees were friendly, which calmed me down as I was a bit nervous. There were a few situational questions, but the interview was mainly designed to understand who I was as a person. Some of the questions include what my interests were, where I worked previously and what strategies I use to manage my time.
What does your employer do?
TAL is one of Australia’s leading life insurance companies and has been protecting people, not things, for over 140 years. TAL strives to help Australians live a life filled with choices, options and freedoms no matter what happens, and to support them when they need us most.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As part of the graduate program, I get the opportunity to complete one rotation outside my business unit. I am currently completing my external rotation in the Innovation Team and am responsible for assisting with team projects and the Innovation Society. Outside my team, I like getting involved with events such as organising and planning events for students, volunteering and getting involved with company-wide initiatives such as the annual Innovation Hackathon, which aims to mitigate manual and tedious business processes within a few days.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
There is no typical work day at TAL, especially in my current rotation in Innovation where projects are fast paced and unpredictable. However, I usually start off every morning by catching up with other graduates and interns at the staff cafe. I would usually have lunch with them, or exercise at the TAL gym. If there is time during the day, we will try and do a milk tea run. The last thing I worked on was a project that investigates how we can potentially combine health and life insurance into a single offering.
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
The career prospects with the graduate program are endless. The objective of the graduate program is to develop your personal and professional skills, so you can become a future leader. After the graduate program, TAL will give all graduates the opportunity to work in a team that aligns with their interests and strengths.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
After high school, I was contemplating pursuing IT or teaching as a career. If I didn’t choose to study IT at university, I think I may have studied to be a secondary teacher instead.
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
The best thing about my job is the opportunities I have as a graduate – from networking opportunities with colleagues across the business, to having the opportunity to learn and make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment. I love tasks that are practical, and getting out of my comfort zone, such as presenting the results of my tasks and coding in languages that I am not familiar with.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are the stress levels high?
I’m not sure if this would be a limitation of my job, but if I were to choose something, it would be that there is always something new to learn. I’ve never worked in the insurance industry before, so it does take some time to understand the products TAL sells to their customers.
There are no expectations on me to work over the weekend, it really is a time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. Things are always busy so I wouldn’t say it’s stressful but the role definitely keeps you learning and growing so you can become the best you can be.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?