Next week will mark my one-year anniversary of working at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This is a great opportunity to look back at an incredible year and to share some of the experiences I’ve gained in my role.
I joined MBIE in February 2018 as a Graduate Policy Advisor, just one week after completing my masters research. Needless to say, it was a very quick transition from student to “young professional” life, submitting my dissertation then packing my belongings for a five hour drive (and 3 hour ferry crossing) from Christchurch to Wellington. New city, first time flatting, and the following Monday, a new job.
I remember my first day arriving at the rather impressive Stout Street building. In classic Wellington fashion, I was caught out by a flash rainstorm (turns out there is such thing as horizontal rain). So, I turned up in a soaked suit, ready to meet my new team.
I was quickly struck by how friendly, but also incredibly competent, everyone was. Each new person I met was approachable and helpful, but also seemed to know everything about everything. I will admit that it was a little intimidating for a newbie in their first, full-time, career role.
However, with the help of a few mentors within my new team, I was very quickly allocated some very meaningful work. This was not just a printing-and-errand-running role: within a few short weeks, I was beginning work on a Cabinet paper, a document prepared on behalf of our responsible Minister which would seek policy decisions from the Government’s highest executive decision-making body.
During the first few months of the Graduate program, I joined the rest of the graduate cohort for regular training and development activities, including various courses on how to write in a professional setting, how the policy development process works, and practical skills for policy professionals.
As the program continued, the courses became more specialised and less frequent, as we each settled into our teams and took on new projects. However, this did not spell the end of the graduate cohort, as we continued to do regular social activities outside of work. One of the most valuable parts of the Graduate program has been this cohort, as a source of valuable information about the various work going on across MBIE, as a resource for finding out how to do unfamiliar tasks, and as a support network where fellow grads could normalise our “jitters” and share the challenges we faced as the year progressed.
Within my team, staff movements and a changing work program gave me ample opportunities for new and exciting work, including attending Parliamentary select committees, carrying through my first regulations from go to woe, and heading over to the Minister’s Office to provide administrative support. I was also assigned a role as Monitor for a Crown Entity, which involves reviewing public accountability documents, fostering a positive working relationship with the Entity’s Chief Executive, and playing a facilitation role between the Entity, MBIE and the Minister.
In between these larger projects have been a variety of tasks, from preparing correspondence for the Minister to analysing public submissions on discussion papers. One of the great things with policy is the variety of work from day to day, and the (at times challenging) balance between long-term projects and ad hoc tasks with short deadlines.
In summary, I am very grateful for this past year and all the learning, new experiences, challenges and opportunities it has contained. I’ve been fortunate to work in a fantastic team, with supportive colleagues, and to have had interesting and varied work. I’m looking forward to deepening my skills and continuing to learn lots.
I highly recommend a policy career for anyone interested in making a real impact for New Zealanders. MBIE is a great place to work, full of awesome people committed to doing what’s right and doing it well, all in the name of “Growing New Zealand for All”.
The Alpine Wanderer.