What is your job about?
AlburyCity is a regional city council committed to building and maintaining Albury’s commercial, social, cultural, educational, environmental and residential interests. Being employed within the Human Resources department in an administrative role, I was exposed to a range of HR functions allowing me to develop a broad skill base. AlburyCity employs over 450 employees, and working primarily in the Recruitment and Selection space, I was delighted to be able to help shape the workforce and assist individuals in following their own desired career paths.
My primary role was to act as the first point of call for HR enquiries from both internal and external customer. Day to day activities, mainly in the recruitment space, involved updating position descriptions, assisting in shortlisting candidates, organising candidate interviews, participating in interviews, organising pre employment testing and preparing new starter paperwork. Another key activity of my role was organising gifts and certificates for employee service milestones and delivering to the Directors for presentation. Additionally, I was tasked with a variety of project work, my proudest being a review and redevelopment of the pre-employment medical questionnaire, and converting this to an online platform. As I grew within my role I was able to take on greater responsibility and be exposed to a wider variety of HR functions.
What is your background?
Whilst studying Business Studies for my HSC, I wasn’t initially interested in following this as a career path, in fact I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to pursue. I had always been interested in Art and Architecture and so applied and was accepted to a Bachelor of Architecture at Deakin in Geelong. I deferred this course for twelve months in order to earn enough money to support myself at uni. During my gap year I worked two jobs, my primary being a full time position as a Legal Assistant (and later Secretary and occasional Receptionist) for a local law firm.
Upon commencing my Bachelor of Architecture, it became apparent to me that I did not have the same passion for the field as my peers and hence I knew I needed to change my direction. I transferred into a double degree of Commerce and Arts with the intention of double majoring, but then dropped my Arts degree after another year and a half.
At the end of my third year of university I had changed degrees twice and had 4 subjects to go to complete as a part of my Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and Human Resource Management. It was at this point I started looking for job opportunities and noted that all HR roles required a minimum 3 years of experience. How was I meant to get experience without having experience? I started enquiring about work experience opportunities both in Geelong and back home in Albury. Fortunately, AlburyCity responded to my enquiry, offering me the opportunity to come in for work experience in a voluntary capacity. I moved home to study by correspondence, working casual shifts at a bar and attending AlburyCity once a week to observe and assist the HR department. Not long after commencing work experience an opportunity opened up in the team, the existing Trainee position was reclassified as a Graduate role and I was able to apply for that position. My journey to commencing my career in HR wasn’t direct, but it shaped me and taught me to be resilient and adapt to situations. I have learnt from each of my experiences, and each experience helped me get where I am today.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Obviously majoring in Human Resource Management provided a great grounding for my understanding of Human Resources, however it was my day to day tasks and exposure to colleague’s work that has been the best learning experience for me from a HR operations point of view. Whilst I learnt the theory behind Recruitment and Selection at university, my graduate position allowed me to put this theory into practice and see the process occur end to end. Additionally, whilst I had a reception and administrative background, it still took me time to answer incoming calls confidently and I regularly ask questions to confirm I am responding to enquiries appropriately and following the correct procedure. Overall, I feel the key qualities necessary for this role are strong communication skills, empathy and ability to read between the lines.
What is the coolest thing about your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is being able to assist people in securing employment in a field that they are passionate about, and growing in that role. I also gain great satisfaction from developing strong working relationships with colleagues ranging all the way from Trainees to the General Manager. My team are also extremely supportive and all work closely together. They are the reason I enjoy coming into work each day and they encourage me to grow in this role.
As a graduate I was also fortunate to have additional support from the AlburyCity Trainee Network, with regular performance reviews with my manager and personal development sessions with peers, providing not only another avenue to ask questions, but also share experiences.
AlburyCity itself is a great workplace to be a part of, with a strong emphasis on work life balance. We work a 9 day fortnight, having every second Friday off work. The organisation also has an active Social Club, which regularly host events to encourage networking from right across the organisation. I have developed some great friendships from the Social Club and regularly catch up with peers from different departments outside of work.
What are the limitations of your job?
With great power, comes great responsibilities. Whilst I developed some great friendship with peers, my role within Human Resources meant that I was privy to information which I was obliged to keep confidential. Maintaining confidentiality at times can be challenging, especially when it impacts your peers, however this is a highly important and essential skill to have in HR. An additional challenge is responding to calls from disappointed candidates who are unsuccessful in securing a role. Whilst this is not a responsibility of the graduate role, being the first point of call means you will not know what the call is going to concern until you pick up the receiver. Being professional, maintaining composure and displaying empathy are key skills that you will need to quickly develop.
3 pieces of advice.
Have a go and get involved.
You won’t know whether a career path is meant for you unless you give it a try. I would never have thought I would have ended up pursuing a career in HR if I hadn’t selected ‘Strategic Human Resource Management’ as a subject my first year. I also managed to find myself nominated and appointed to the Social Club Committee for college during my second year. Being an introvert at heart I would never have put my hand up to join, but this ended up being a great experience, helping me to improve my communication skills both socially and professionally.
Have the courage to adapt and change.
I changed degrees three times, and that’s okay. Eventually I found something that I was passionate about and that I enjoy doing. Going back to my first piece of advice; I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t give it a try and change when I realised it wasn’t for me.
Experience is key.
If given the chance to undertake an internship or work experience whilst at university, jump on the opportunity. Never under estimate the value of industry experience. This is an opportunity to put theory into practice and be exposed to the day to day operations.