One of my personal values has always been to never stop learning and I think that’s what I found appealing about a career in technology – it’s constantly in a state of change.
However, after obtaining my Bachelor of Computer Science from Western Sydney University, I realised that a narrow focus on programming wasn’t necessarily going to be ‘my thing.’ So, I started to look for something to help me find my focus.
Around that time, I applied to the Business Technology and Services (BTS) Academy at Telstra. The BTS group provides business and technology consulting services, project management and managed services to business customers. Their talent development course, the BTS Academy, trains people for careers across networks and security. Some people joined the program straight from university or TAFE, while others joined the program from different careers. For me, it was a win-win that the Academy would allow me to get hands-on experience, while continuing to learn.
In the first six months of the program we needed to obtain two certifications covering project management and technology (covering basic level networking skills). Beyond that, the expectation was that you could move between teams to experience new roles and projects. We were each assigned a team leader, coach, and buddy to help us personalise the program. If we started in an area and didn’t like it, we could swap to another. There was a very strong emphasis on “creating our own journey,” and as a result all 25 associates in the program have had very different experiences.
Between studying and on-the-job learning, I managed to try several different roles. This included Project Coordination, a role as a Technical Implementer and, my personal favourite, Wi-Fi Consultancy. It was good to finally test out my interests, and find out what I liked best.
As a Project Coordinator my role was to assist project managers wherever support was needed – from managing spreadsheets, to project billing and resourcing. This gave me exposure to a wide range of technology projects that were underway at the time. As a Technical Implementer my role involved working with devices, like routers and switches, to create and connect networks. This included working on the network technology that connects ATMs to banks, enabling transaction information to be recorded. While my time as a Wi-Fi Consultant involved talking to businesses about how best to optimise the design of the Wi-Fi networks in their offices.
Along the way, I’ve learnt so many things. But there are three pieces of wisdom I think would be helpful to most people, regardless of their career path:
- (Human) networking is extremely important. Building and maintaining relationships will open so many doors for you.
- Don’t dwell on your failures – learn from them. At the end of the day you are human and you will face a lot of unknowns while doing your job, so the possibility for mistakes will always be there. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and thanks to my support network, have been able to bounce back and learn something from each experience.
- Be open to new experiences and change. If you had asked me what my least favourite subject was at university I would have said Wireless Mobile Networks. But having had the opportunity to experience Wi-Fi Consultancy I’ve actually come to discover a hidden passion!
Six months down the line, I have now graduated from the Academy into my team, where I will be working towards becoming a Wireless Consultant. As part of the National Solutions Wireless Practice team, I will consult with customers on the best design for new Wi-Fi solutions and working on improving the design of existing networks. I’ll also gain experience in wireless security and data-analytics projects down the track. Importantly, I will continue to have the support and resources of the Academy Program for the next two years, so that I can continue to upskill myself along the way. I’m excited to see where my learnings take me next!