Home Blog Graduates and Interns September 2020 Maximising your graduate program experience

Maximising your graduate program experience

by Stephen Chu

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My experience in the Telstra Graduate Program has been nothing short of amazing. The experiences I’ve had and the skills I’ve learnt have given me the foundations for a successful career.
The Program helps you to build upon what you’ve learnt at university and gives you an avenue to put it into practice.
For those considering the program or about to enter, here’s how Telstra has helped me on my journey so far and what you can expect.
My key take-aways from the Program
The first important piece of advice that I received was on my first day. I was told to always be transparent, especially if you don’t know something. It’s important to remember that if you don’t know, go out, find the answer and then get back to the person asking.
Secondly, it’s important to say yes (within reason) and to seize every opportunity. Is there a chance to volunteer and help organise an event? Say yes. Is there a chance to help someone or be a mentor? Say yes.
Thirdly, network! Set up coffee catchups with peers, mentors and leaders across the business. Everyone at Telstra is willing to spend some time with any grad. Everyone is open to letting you know about what they do and giving some invaluable career advice.
The real beauty of this program is the option to do six-month rotations in different teams. From this, graduates can develop skills in a variety of areas within the business.
Ideally, a graduate who comes out of the Program should have practiced most of the skills that they have an interest in. These may be in areas such as user experience design, data analysis, stakeholder management etc.
For example, if you want to develop skills in stakeholder management, consider a rotation in a sales team, where you may get the opportunity to oversee a portfolio of external clients. 
Making the most of the opportunity
In most cases, you only have the chance to be a graduate once in your life and my advice is to take advantage of it.
There’s a certain level of flexibility you are given as a graduate. Now is the time to be learning, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and asking lots and lots of questions. This could simply be asking your manager if you can take on a side project which you have an interest in or choosing a team outside of your business function as a rotation.
I think it’s also useful to have some form of a diary or log in which you write down what your wins, learnings and challenges were from each week. It’s a good way to prioritise and reflect, and by the end of the Program, you should have a list of all your achievements.
Telstra successfully balances the line between giving you freedom but also providing the structure for a great graduate program.
They do an amazing job putting together a framework for rotations and providing many opportunities to learn and grow such as mentoring programs and networking events. This is driven by the fantastic work of the Early Careers team and Graduate Leads.
However, the choice of rotations, what skills you want to learn and the network you build are all left up to you. You determine what you want to achieve based on your goals and aspirations. Telstra provides guidance but if you want to do something, it is ultimately up to you to go for it.
Regardless of what your ambitions are, this is your chance to experiment and explore different areas to see whether they could be potential future career paths.
The people of the Telstra Graduate Program
All of the people chosen for the Telstra Graduate Program are passionate, proactive and well-rounded individuals. My fellow graduates have made the experience more enjoyable.
All my colleagues in New South Wales and across Australia have been very supportive and friendly and have pushed me to reach my potential. I can confidently say I have a strong relationship with all the grads in NSW and have also formed relationships with grads from Victoria during one of my rotations.
It’s great to have a network of peers who are in the same boat as you. They can offer advice on problems you’re facing or just be there to talk to and bounce ideas off each other.

On the social side, we’ve become friends outside of work as well, often going out for lunch and dinners together.
If I could have told myself something before, I started the Program, it would be to just enjoy it. It is also important to use the time to try something new and to really push yourself.
Do you want to become a Telstra graduate? You can find our more information about the Program here.
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