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Having completed high school in country Victoria, I felt that I was at a disadvantage and may have missed opportunities in comparison to my fellow students when I started studying Psychology at Deakin University. Especially given that even when I completed year 12, the only thing I truly knew that I wanted to do was move to Melbourne and work with people.
Although simply attending university classes and meeting new people helped me realise I was not alone in this ‘unknown’ state, I wanted to be sure I had a successful career. So I joined any committee, and volunteered for any opportunity related to Psychology or the health profession I could. I did this through networking with fellow students, lecturers and tutors and asking questions and showing interest in what was happening around the uni. Through these opportunities, I learnt about leadership, teamwork, project management; all skills that I now use everyday of my career and couldn’t have learnt in a lecture.
However, I still didn’t know what I was passionate about, and it wasn’t until my Graduate Diploma in Psych (fourth year), that I completed a careers counselling subject, and was introduced to John Holland and his person-environment fit theory. I fell in love with the idea of helping people be happy at work by matching their natural preferences with the type of work they would be doing. Suddenly I knew that this was what I wanted to do.
I took a time-out from study after forth year to gain experience in my field and actually earn some money! I volunteered with Lifeline telephone counselling, and an Internship with a global HR consulting firm called Personnel Decisions International (PDI). Lifeline taught me how to manage myself when others are in a high state of distress, and although the ‘band-aid’ approach to helping these people wasn’t for me long term, I still draw upon the practical skills I learnt. More importantly, the process of actually stepping outside my comfort zone and taking some of those calls taught me more about myself and what I am capable of then I could have imagined. Don’t underestimate any opportunity to stretch yourself and learn a new skill.
At PDI I administered, scored and interpreted psychometric tests and partnered with Organisational Psychologists live in action to see how they ‘matched’ people into roles. It was fascinating to me, and I stayed on as the coordinator and Intern Manager in the Psychometric team and also took the opportunity to undertake supervised practice, following the ‘4+2’ model to become registered with the Psychologist Registration Board of Victoria.
I stayed at PDI for 3.5years and left as an Associate Consultant to experience the profession outside of my comfort zone. I joined a boutique consulting company where I was the only Psychologist and had a wonderful opportunity in my career to work on coaching skills. We worked with a lot of small to medium enterprise’s (SME) so I was able to work closely with the CEO’s and actual decision makers in the business to do coaching and one-on-one development feedback based on psychometric data.
Moving to the large corporate life at National Australia Bank has been wonderful. The culture and opportunity to partner with like minded professionals toward a common goal and support the business in achieving its strategic initiatives is a great feeling. I work in the central team of Organisational Capability, with a focus on uplifting the skills and capability in the business and helping contribute to the strategic agenda of the ‘right people in the right roles at the right time.’
A typical day at NAB involves several meetings to ensure collaboration and that subject matter expertise is involved in all projects. I don’t do much work that is autonomous. Whether I’m partnering with my team on a new tool or process to make development planning easier for our people or working with a business unit to help them implement a tool, I’m always collaborating.
I can see lots of potential and exciting roles at NAB for me, and would like to stay here for a few years. I have worked hard to build networks and to ask colleagues about their jobs and careers and the more I talk to people, the more I realise they have ended up in their roles through timing and taking a chance than from knowing what they wanted when they were at Uni.
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