Business Services

Earn, learn & grow

Author: Careers at Council

Read time: 5 min read

Q&A with Renae Landon, Administration Officer – Infrastructure at City of Darwin

Finishing school and unsure of what she wanted to do, Renae Landon followed the advice of a friend and applied for a traineeship at the City of Darwin. She has never looked back! We recently caught up with Renae and chatted about her six and a half years at council, the roles she’s had, what she loves about her current job and why she believes a local government traineeship is a fantastic option – especially if you’re unsure about what you want to do.

Q. Can you tell us how you began your journey with council?

A. Sure, I had just finished high school and my friend, who recently completed a traineeship working for state government, told me about local government. She helped me write my application for a trainee role in Records, and I was successful.

I was a trainee for a year, and completed a Certificate III in Business Administration. It was so interesting; I had no idea what councils did at all – it’s actually mind-blowing to see the things that we touch on a daily basis!

Unfortunately, I had to leave because my one-year traineeship was up, and there were no available roles in the team. So, I started to look in other areas and found an admin position in the Operations Centre which is where all the outdoor work gets managed.

Within a week of being there a position came up back in the Records team. I was so tempted to return, because it was what I knew. I contemplated whether I should stick with the new role and work through the first few months of not knowing what I’m doing and find my feet.

In the end the supervisor convinced me to stay. I worked in the Operations Centre for three years actually – and I’m really glad I did, because I experienced so many different roles and areas. During leave absences I worked in fleet administration, the senior administration officer role, the communications officer and also did building maintenance admin. I gained so much confidence from all of these roles!

Then an opportunity to work in Design and Development Projects Admin came up at the Civic Centre and I thought I may as well throw my hat in the ring – I knew that was the only way I was going to learn.

And then two years ago, I moved into the Project Delivery team which is my current role. At the start of this year, I started my Diploma in Project Management which I’ve nearly finished!

Q. Congratulations! How did you juggle studying and working full time?

A. The Diploma is through the Australian Institute of Management and it’s all online which is great because it is something I can do at work and home. I’ve started doing little projects on the side so that I can put my learning into practice. Just recently, I managed the installation of a memorial plaque in a park for an ex-Lord Mayor. I basically managed the whole project!

For me, being able to study, do the work and apply it straight away in real work situations is so good – you just learn so much better that way.

Q. What would a typical day look like in your role?

A. We work off task lists in our records management system. Every day I’ll go in and check my supervisor’s list and the lists of the five project managers in our team. On each list we will get incoming correspondence from residents who might be asking when a playground is going to be completed or alerting us to an issue with a contractor who has been fixing or maintaining something.

After I’ve actioned what needs to happen there, I check my own emails. It might be emails from the project managers asking me to organise a mailout to let the community know we’re replacing a footpath in their area, or removing trees or anything really. It’s so varied.

Q. What do you find the most rewarding about your role?

A. I was recently involved in a community engagement project, post-build of an all-access playground. I wrote a survey that the community could access by scanning a QR code at the park and answering 5 questions about whether the playground had met their needs.

There was a student who responded, he was in a wheelchair and he was really happy because he could move around the entire playground and use the whole facility. That was great – it’s so rewarding to see that you’re actually contributing to something that makes a real difference!

Q. What else would you say you really enjoy about your role?

A. Coming to work and talking to everyone! We have the opportunity to work from home – but I prefer to come in here. I work with lots of great personalities, we often have lunch together. There are lots of social club events, and even events on the weekends.

Q. Looking back now, do you think the traineeship role was the right option for you? And would you recommend it to others just starting out?

A. Absolutely, I was studying and working full-time, and council was paying for it! That was so much better than me going into debt for something that I didn’t even know if I wanted to do.

It also gives you the opportunity to grow your interpersonal skills. In admin you have to learn to communicate with so many people about so many different things. They can either be really happy, really unhappy or anything in between – you just have to adjust!

I’d say traineeships in local government are a great option if you’re unsure of what you want to do. Just get yourself into the workforce, you can learn and earn at the same time!


Click here to read more about entry level opportunities in local government and explore the job availabilities right now!

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