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From intern to full-time: how we’re helping Indigenous students find their fit

Telstra Careers Advice

Posted on November 20, 2019

4 min read

We have just welcomed 16 talented and driven Indigenous university students who are joining us this summer for the CareerTrackers internship program.

Every summer and winter, we aim to onboard new interns as well as welcome back some familiar faces returning for another experience. Over the next three months, our interns will be hard at work in different areas of our business.

Since 2015, we’ve partnered with CareerTrackers – a national not-for-profit organisation that aims to create paid, multi-year internship opportunities for Indigenous university students in Australia.

This partnership is part of our 2019-21 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), in which we’ve committed to increasing our CareerTrackers intake to 20 per year for the next three years to help improve the participation of Indigenous Australians in the workforce and develop future talent.

We’re committed to continuously building a strong pipeline of diverse early career talent, and this program is a means to help Indigenous students find their career fit and gain work experience relevant to their degree – with the aim of developing them from interns into our graduate program or full-time employment once they complete their degrees.

We asked Kirstin Shaw, one of our past interns who is now a full-time employee, to share her experience on the CareerTrackers program at Telstra and her career journey since then.

Kirstin’s story

I’ve been at Telstra for almost 5 years now, and have loved every step along the way, from Customer Advisor to Intern, to Summer Vacation Student to Graduate, and then a permanent role! My career started before CareerTrackers came along – I applied for a casual role in a Telstra store, and the leads I worked with were always extremely supportive of my ambitions – this supportive culture led me to look at Telstra as a long term career choice.

I grew up in Mackay in North Queensland and began studying a double degree in Law & Accounting online at Central Queensland University while working part-time at a local tax firm. When I moved to Brisbane, I moved in with a friend whose brother worked for CareerTrackers and that’s how I found out about the program. They provided me the academic support and direction I was really lacking.

The community was like nothing I had ever experienced at home – it allowed me to learn a lot about myself and my culture and connect on a deeper level. Seeing others from backgrounds like mine succeed made me realise I could do a lot better than I was.

What area of the business did you rotate into, and what did you learn?

My first internship was in Service Delivery in Enterprise in 2016. I did 4 weeks in this team and this was enough to cement the fact that Telstra was the right fit for my early career.

I applied for the Summer Vacation program and accidentally ticked a box confirming I’d relocate to Melbourne instead of staying in Brisbane. I got a position which was in Melbourne – I had never been before, knew no one here, but was determined to make it work.

I spent those 12 weeks in a Small Business Sales team attending customer site visits, investigating customer non-payment causes and NPS. After this I was accepted to the Finance Grad program, which saw me permanently move to Melbourne – ticking that box in 2016 is the best mistake I’ve ever made! I completed three rotations in Commissions Finance, Group Compliance and Supply Chain Operations – each rotation was very different and allowed me to build different skills.

I’ve now rolled off the grad program into Group Internal Audit, which I’m loving – there are always new things to learn and different parts of the business to dive into. I’ve had fantastic support along the way from our people – namely, store leads, Grad leads and the Indigenous recruitment specialists who always supported me to follow my passions.

The highlight of CareerTrackers was earning my Gold Diary – an award for students who maintain a distinction average. Coming from a place where I didn’t know what a GPA was, this was a huge achievement for me and something I may not have been motivated to do without the community’s support.

What would you say to other Indigenous students who are looking at applying for the CareerTrackers program with Telstra?

Give it a go – what do you have to lose? It just may be the best decision you ever make. Being a part of CareerTrackers was a driving force for my success at university and into my early career. Get yourself a mentor and learn as much as possible.

Be strong about where you would like to see your career take you, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.

Creating equality for new parents

Inspiration

Posted on July 1, 2019

4 min read

We’re relentlessly committed to diversity, inclusion and flexibility. This includes helping our team bring their whole selves to work and having the flexibility to balance their professional and personal lives.

Our Diversity and Inclusion strategy takes a holistic view of diversity – we will listen more, prioritise fairness and promote opportunities for under-represented groups within our business.

And now we’ve changed our Australian parental leave policy. The bottom line?

We want every parent, regardless of gender, to be able to share caring responsibilities while maintaining their career.

Removing boundaries, prioritising fairness

This change removes the distinction between primary and secondary carers, which are often linked to traditional gendered roles. Now, any eligible parent who has been with us a year or more can take up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave within the first 12 months after their child’s birth or placement. Secondary carers previously received two weeks of paid leave.

There’s also more flexibility in how this leave can be taken. Parental leave can now be taken in one block or multiple blocks, and can be used to return to work on a part-time basis as needed. This is in addition to our All Roles Flex approach that helps our people manage their work and life in a way that works for them.

Equal and shared parenting enables better gender equality in the workplace and reflects our changing society where both parents contribute to caring and family commitments.

This change is already having a positive effect on the lives of some of our people, and it’s being welcomed and supported by many others. Mike and Yvette are two examples.

Mike Bowers, Senior Product Specialist

New father to twin girls born in May 2019.

I think this is a major step in the right direction for gender equality. As a company I think we want to challenge gender stereotypes and this speaks volumes.

As first-time parents embarking on the challenge of caring for our beautiful twin girls, I was faced with a dilemma – be a great employee or be a great father. Before the new policy, I was looking at taking annual and unpaid leave so I could support my wife and family; I can now take some of that leave as paid. It makes me proud to work for a company that takes such a strong stance and really makes me want to give back to a company willing to give to its people during such a special chapter in their lives.

Yvette Sraga, Head of Programs – Principal

Yvette and Liz have shared the primary carer role for their three kids – Poppy (8) and twins Ava and Jacob (4).

I’m very proud of Telstra for challenging the gender stereotypes relating to a primary carer. This is a great step towards ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace and acknowledges the crucial role that both parents play in early childhood development.

In our situation, if both our employers had paid parental leave with options on how to use it, it would have not only removed a lot of pressure, but also would have allowed us both to bond closely with our babies during those precious first 12 months equally.

Commitment to fairness

We want to be the best place to work for all. Today, that means making it fairer for all new parents.

Our new policy of offering 16 weeks of paid parental leave for all parents puts gender equity front and centre. We want our people to bring their whole selves to work, and fulfil their most important role at home.  

This change is initially available to our team members in Australia and we’re working to equalise our policies across our international locations.

Flexing big for World Flexible Working Day

Inspiration

Posted on May 22, 2019

3 min read

Today is World Flexible Working Day. It’s a day to challenge the mindset that work can only be done in the confines of a formal office setting. Flexible working is all about giving employees the choice to change their arrangements so that work can fit in seamlessly with their lives.

We introduced our ‘All Roles Flex’ approach in 2014. This approach recognises that flexibility will mean different things for different people. For example, it may mean working part-time, working outside normal 9-5 business hours or working from different locations.

We encourage our leaders to manage flexible working by checking in with their team members regularly to see what’s going on outside work. And we encourage our people to take a guilt-free attitude to flexibility, because it improves productivity, engagement and results for our customers. 

From Yeppoon to Yatala, Ballina to Caulfield – Telstra has flexible workers all over the country.

Meet three of our flexible working champions who have changed their working times and locations. These changes have been made possible through the support of our leaders, as well as a continuous focus on flexibility, technology and connectivity.

Cameron Young

Parenthood is a challenge and for first-time father, Cameron Young has been able to be there for his wife and son and still complete his work requirements

Parenthood is a challenge and for first-time father, Cameron Young has been able to be there for his wife and son and still complete his work requirements. 

“Working flexibly wasn’t something I truly valued until it became available to me,” Cameron said.

“I’m able to support my family with time at home, both planned and short-notice, without missing a beat or lowering my productivity.” 

Cameron works as a product marketing senior specialist in Telstra Enterprise. He sees the benefits are not exclusive to working from home. He says he can seamlessly co-locate with stakeholders both inter-floor, inter-office and internationally. All the time maintaining productivity while on the move with minimal disruption.

“I’ve fully embraced the tools and structures that allow us to work flexibly, and I’m proud to be part of an organisation that has availed this style of working,” he said. 

Nicola Reeves

The Byron Bay hinterland is a dream holiday destination, and Nicola Reeves from the Telstra Sponsorship team has made it her permanent home

The Byron Bay hinterland is a dream holiday destination, and Nicola Reeves from the Telstra Sponsorship team has made it her permanent home. 

Moving from Wollongong 18 months ago, Nicola shifted north and took her role with her to the Ballina office.

Nicola believes she has a much more rounded perspective of the organisation since making the move.

“The thing I love about working flexibly is that you get to work with and meet a whole bunch of Telstra people that you wouldn’t otherwise,” she said. 

And her job remained the same given the technology Telstra offers. 

“The video conferencing is essential. So much about communication is non-verbal that if I couldn’t see people when I was talking to them it would be much more difficult.”

Moving north has given Nicola a more balanced life and she says it has given her perspective to reflect on things.

“I find that I am far calmer and less reactive as a result,” she said.

Mark Oberman

Cancelling his commute and getting back two hours of daylight was key for Mark Oberman in deciding to work more from home than the Brisbane office

Cancelling his commute and getting back two hours of daylight was key for Mark Oberman in deciding to work more from home than the Brisbane office. 

As part of the Telstra Global Partner Development team, with a specific focus on partner delivered professional and managed services, his role is not geographically focused.

“Being a self-confessed workaholic, my wife moderates my work hours directly,” laughed Mark. “I am more productive, as I am not distracted by activities around me.” 

4 technology projects our teams are working on this year

Telstra Careers 5G

Posted on February 4, 2019

3 min read

From launching 5G to creating new Internet of Things (IoT) experiences for our millions of customers, we continue to be at the forefront of technological advancements that are changing our industry.

This means 2019 is going to be another big year for all of our technology teams as they’ll be at the centre of this exciting journey.

So what are the biggest projects our teams will be working on this year? Here are the top four:

2019 is the year of 5G

5G will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of ultra-fast mobile speeds and IoT on a mass scale.

Our people have already made some pretty huge advancements in this space, including turning on 5G in all major Australian cities, and opening our 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast.

But this is only just the beginning of what we are hoping to achieve together. See how our teams are helping to turn 5G into a reality.

Creating new IoT experiences

Our talented tech teams are creating the future of IoT and this means in 2019 we’re going to continue to deliver new experiences to Australian families and businesses, so they can be better connected, protected and empowered.

Since launching our IoT network, our people have created the Telstra Locator and helped to transform the agriculture industry.

With over 50 million connected devices expected on our network over the next five years, this is just the start of new innovations that our people will deliver.

See how our people are bringing new IoT experiences to life and the skills we’re looking to hire in.

Using AI and Machine Learning

Customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we believe it’s important they can speak with us in a way that’s easiest and convenient for them.

That is why our teams will continue to use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in innovative new ways, to help create amazing digital experiences.  Get a look into the work our people are doing.

Cyber security remains top of mind

With one of the largest cyber security teams in Australia, our hundreds of information security specialists will continue to play a big role in helping to keep Australia secure in 2019.

As an organisation, we’re committed to addressing cyber security threats, and continue to invest heavily to make sure our customers are supported.

We’ll continue to do this in a number of new ways including how we keep our code secure and help our people to keep up to date with latest cyber security trends.

Want to know what else we have planned for 2019?
Hear from our tech leaders.

Building the skills Australia needs for the future

Telstra News T22

Posted on January 31, 2019

4 min read

We’re working to partner with the tertiary sector to address skills shortages in areas that Telstra – and Australia – needs for the future.

Discussion on the future of work often turns negative with concern that robots and automation will take away most jobs. While this shouldn’t be downplayed as technology will adversely impact some types of jobs, the scale of technological change is also bringing with it huge demand for skilled jobs in areas such as software and network engineering, cyber security and data analytics. Demand in Australia is far outweighing the number of people available with these skills – and the number of graduates is simply not enough to stem the growing skills gap.

To put this into perspective, Australia produced around 1,200 new software engineers in the last 12 months, compared to 44,000 in India.

When we look at the deep domain technical skills that we need now – and into the future – there are not enough people with these skills available in Australia.

But this is not only a challenge for Telstra. Competitive advantage is becoming increasingly tied to an organisation’s – and a country’s – technical capabilities. So developing a skilled workforce is critical to our future economic success.

So what’s the solution?

A multifaceted approach is needed to develop the right core skills to set up Australia with a population ready and able to work productively in the innovative workplaces of the future. A major component of this involves collective and progressive action between business, government and the education sector to shape how we build these skills.

As a major employer in Australia, we want to play a role in making this happen.

As part of our T22 strategy we are retraining our people in areas our business needs. For example, we recently trained some of our existing store team members as small business specialists so that we have more people dedicated to supporting this customer segment. We are also training some people to be Agile Coaches to help our teams adapt to our new work practices.

Beyond this, we have contributed to developing the next-generation of workers over a number of years. For example, we have long-running Graduate, Summer Vacation and Traineeship programs to develop early business and technology talent, and we’ve also been involved in the Australian Government’s P-TECH program for high school students. Parts of our business have also taken a leading role in developing specific technology skills, such as sponsoring the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Challenge Australia hacking competition which provides a practical application of the skills students learn in university and TAFE.

But we’re now stepping up this activity by taking a more holistic approach as an organisation and will be establishing formal partnerships with additional tertiary providers to develop the critical skills we need.

Building strong partnerships with tertiary providers

We recently started to partner with the University of Wollongong on their Global Leaders Development Program and have taken our first of their Big Data students as an intern (one of 80 students from around Australia who have been working with us over the summer).

We intend to expand this approach in the months ahead to include additional tertiary institutions with a focus on critical skills like software-defined networking and machine learning.

Adapting our Graduate program to develop the right technology skills

These partnerships will be supported by a new-look Graduate program for our next cohort starting in 2020. This group will go through a 12-month program that will include two in-depth rotations and three learning and experience accelerators to develop specific technology-based capability.

Graduates will be recruited in areas such as software and network engineering, information and cyber security, data analytics and management, product and service design, as well as finance and Human Resources.

In line with demand, we will increase our intake in Australia to around 190 for our 2020 program – up from 150 this year. Applications will open in March for Australian-based positions.

We will continue to access talent and skills where we need to, particularly in areas where there are skills shortages. This means we’ll expand our international Graduate program, which has run in our Hong Kong and Singapore hubs over the past few years, to include software engineering graduates in India who will be based at our new Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore.

This is just part of what we’re doing to develop future technology talent. We are committed to ongoing partnerships – with the government, the education sector and other corporates – to address the critical skills shortages in this country and set up Australia for future success.

 

Tags: AI, careers, education, IoT,