Age: Late 20s
Works for: Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria
"I’m female, I’m technical and I’m able to speak to people, which is a valuable combination in ICT today."
When she’s not at work Kate is adamant: she doesn’t touch computers. Instead she plays golf or hockey, goes mountain bike riding or snowboarding. Kate describes her musical taste as being eclectic. ‘I don’t mind some of the old fuddy duddy music and I don’t mind a bit of hard-core rock either.’ Right now the CDs in her car are Jack Johnson, Audio Slave and Norah Jones. ‘A bit like me,’ she says. ‘A little all over the place.’
Tell us about Rural Finance
We’re similar to a bank, but specifically for farmers. Rural Finance has offices all over the state - Bendigo, Warrnambool, Shepparton, Traralgon and Swan Hill. We also disperse funding for natural disasters, such as the Bushfire Relief Fund. Right now the drought is keeping us very busy.
Your job title is ICT Support. What do you do?
I take care of all the company hardware and software, maintaining it, trouble shooting and sorting out any issues that may arise. I also manage our IP telephony system (an internal network where you can talk on the phone via the internet, which is very cost effective).
What do you like about your job?
It gives me two things that I enjoy - helping people, and playing with all the latest techno toys! That’s the best of both worlds to me. I feel a little bit spoiled!
What does your job involve on a day-to-day basis?
I spend a lot of time on the phone speaking to people, helping them through their particular issues. A bit of therapy is required as well, calming them down when they‘re stressing out. I also spend time training, basically just helping people understand how to use technology to their advantage. Rural Finance tries to stay abreast of the new technology, so I get to play with all the new techno toys!
Do you spend a lot of time at your computer?
Everything I do revolves around computers, but it would be a rare day when I would spend the whole day in front of my computer. Most days I’m rushing about helping people.
What skills did you need for this job?
The primary skill I had to bring to this role was the ability to talk to people on a level that they could understand. My technical skills are an advantage but the skills I use every day are my communication skills. A technical person would be sufficient for the role but to be successful they must be able to communicate to fulfil the needs of the person on the other end of the phone.
How did you get where you are today?
I started out wanting to be a personal trainer. When I was 21 I went back to uni to study computing, which was obviously completely different from my original game plan. I discovered that I was a natural with the technology. On top of that, ICT is obviously the way of the future. I thought I would never be out of a job. I decided it was the thing for me and it has been a successful choice.
Now I have a Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Networks) from Latrobe University in Bendigo. It was a three-year course. After my second year I was accepted into what is called the Industry Experience Program, where students go out into the work force for 12 months and apply the skills they are learning at school. My work experience was based in Shepparton, working for a group of schools as one of their ICT techs. It was fun and a fantastic learning opportunity. The following year I went back to uni and finished off my degree.
Is your job always changing?
Definitely. Technology is ever changing and I need to keep abreast of that. I need to ensure when someone rings up with a question that I can answer with confidence.
Is the money good?
The money’s good if you have the skills. There isn’t really a ceiling on your earning power. If you have a niche skill at the right time, you can earn a lot of money.
Do you feel you have enough contact with other people?
Yes, that’s something I’ve created for myself. I’ve volunteered to deliver a lot of training and I always make myself available for people.
Where do you see your career going next?
In ICT you have a lot of control over your career. You can leap and bound from one industry to another and travel wherever you want to go. I’ve just been moved into the role of Business Analyst, which is less technical and more analytical than my previous role.
I’ve had all kinds of jobs in my life. All I really want is a job that makes me happy. I’m very challenged with my work at the moment. I’m not bored. I work with a good group of people. Yeah, I’m very happy. Bendigo is a great place to be.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in ICT?
Pick what you want out of life and design your ICT career around that. ICT is not just about typing on a computer. There are endless things you can do. My choice was to spend my time with other people. I really enjoy people so I designed my career around that. If you like games programming, you can choose that stream. Have a think about what you love.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).