When Sarah applied for the Indigenous Apprenticeships Programme (IAP) at the age of 19, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. Now, she’s an integral member of the social media team at the Department of Human Services.
The 12-month IAP offers a career path for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to join the Australian Public Service. Indigenous apprentices are placed in a full-time entry level position with a Government department in locations all over Australia.
“It was fantastic to be able to do the programme with a group of my peers,” Sarah said. “We were all on the same journey together and were a great support for each other.
“One of the apprentices I did the programme with is still a great friend of mine – I even visited her recently to sneak in some cuddles with her newborn!”
While Sarah was placed with the Department of Human Services, others offering positions include the Departments of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Health, and the National Disability and Insurance Agency.
After graduating from the IAP, Sarah gained valuable experience taking family payment and Medicare related calls at the department’s Latrobe Smart Centre in Traralgon, Victoria. From there she took a leap of faith and moved to Melbourne to join the social media team. She’s now working as a Social Media Adviser, responding to the many questions asked on the department’s social media accounts every day and developing social media content.
“I love helping people,” she said. “Our customers are at the core of what we do, and it’s wonderful to be able to help people in real time, connect them with useful information, and even save them a phone call.”
Regardless of where the apprentices end up working, they all complete a nationally recognised certificate or diploma as part of the programme. Sarah achieved a Certificate III in Customer Contact, and has since started a Bachelor of Media Communications, which she is doing part-time to complement her role.
“I’m almost half way through my degree, and I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “It’s great I can draw on what I do in my job for my uni assignments.
“The department has been so supportive of me doing further study too, which makes it so much easier for me to get the right work life balance.”
With all of these opportunities in mind, it was Sarah’s mum, also an employee at the department, who gave Sarah the initial boost of confidence she needed to apply soon after finishing high school.
“My mum was actually the person who convinced me to send in my application for the IAP,” Sarah said.
“She told me I could get a qualification and some great experience. The rest, as they say, is history!”
Sarah’s advice for people who are considering applying for the IAP is to just go for it.
“You absolutely won’t regret it,” she said. “It really can be a career for life, and there are no limits to what you can achieve or where you might go.”
Applications for the 2018 intake of the programme are open now and close on Sunday 6 May 2018.