Oindrila is a technical graduate in the Innovation team within our Chief Technology Office (CTO). She joined Telstra as part of our 2017 graduate cohort. Here’s what she’s learned so far as part of the program.

My second month at Telstra was quite different from the first and presented a new set of challenges. This month I didn’t have one big project to focus on, but a number of ongoing projects, some of which were passed onto me midway through.

A week or so into the various projects I started to fall behind. In addition to the time spent on learning new skills, I was spending a lot of time looking for clarification on different aspects of them. My manager, Frank, noticed I was stressing out and we started to have regular catch-ups about how I could best manage my time. We discussed different types of to-do lists, which could better help me plan out my day and also keep track of my progress.

Make a list, check it twice

I found one effective way to get organised was dividing my days based on the different projects I was working on and allocated ‘block out days’ for the projects that required more time.

I started making educated assumptions and looked for clarification at different stages of my projects rather than trying to understand everything about it before moving to the next step.

Treating the different projects like separate university subjects also really helped. It allowed me to focus on the most urgent tasks while not completely ignoring the rest. Soon I started catching up on my work, I felt more in control and began to stress less.

If you can’t chew it, don’t bite it

I work in our Innovation Lab where we host a Hack Day, an evening for interested CTO staff to work on fun projects of their own. That’s where I learned a lesson in over-confidence. At the time, I was juggling two projects: one involved building a FlyBrix Lego Drone and the other involved designing a Terminator-style heads up display (HUD) for Microsoft’s augmented reality headset the HoloLens.

For the Hack Day, I wanted to start with the Lego Drone, so in preparation, I built it at home the night before and checked if I had all the right pieces. However, as I was busy trying to accomplish too many things at once, I overlooked some necessary software requirements for the drone and couldn’t work on the project like I wanted to.

From that day on, whenever I work on a one day project that requires use of new software, I plan my day accordingly allowing me time to download additional software if required. Looking back, if I had just stuck to the drone project and not moved between the two so quickly I might have had one completed by the end of the day.

Engage people in ways that suit them

Working on a number of projects at the same time requires daily interaction with a number of people who work differently.

At first I would simply go to their desks and ask them a question, but this seemed ineffective for some people as they often spent time away from their desks.

I have since changed how I communicate with different people. For example with people who like discussing questions in meetings, I have started emailing my questions. That way, if it can be answered immediately it can be but if it requires further explanation we can set up a meeting. I’ve noticed more often than not, that questions do get answered via email.

Reflecting on my first two months at Telstra, I’ve become faster when it comes to responding to emails – they no longer sit as a draft for days.

I’ve also been more proactive about meeting people in different parts of the business (sending out emails quicker helps!).

The different projects that I have worked on have taught me a number of new skills, most recently, video editing. There have been many opportunities to enhance my technical skills in addition to hands-on learning through forums, workshops and brown bags.

But most importantly for me these first two months have been a steep learning curve in terms of improving my soft skills, which will only help my .

Advice from a Telstra graduate, two months in:

  • Treat projects like they’re university subjects, allocating appropriate time for each
  • Focus on perfecting one task before moving to another
  • Change how you communicate with people based on what’s right for them

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