Day in the Life Profile—Maddy McCaskill
Former Graduate (2020)
Media Services, Communication Branch, People, Governance, Parliamentary and Communication Division
I wake up and get ready for the day. This usually involves showering, getting dressed, feeding my dog and then starting my commute.
I drive to work as I have a carpark at my mum's house right near my office, which is convenient as she looks after my dog some days. One of the perks of living in Canberra is that you're never stuck in traffic for too long, and it usually only takes me 15 minutes to get to the carpark.
The first thing I do after arriving at work is check my emails. As I work in the Media Services section, there are multiple inboxes I have to monitor including my own, the media inbox and the events inbox. Someone always handles the media duty phone out of business hours and will usually action any urgent requests overnight/early in the morning, so I just make sure everything assigned to me is actioned or underway.
I aim to get in before 8:30 am most mornings, however the department allows me to work anytime between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, as long as I complete seven-and-a-half hours of work. Flexible working is one of the many benefits of working in the APS.
Working in the Media Services section, it is crucial to keep up to date with any relevant news or developments for the portfolio. Daily briefings are sent to my inbox via Streem, our department's media monitoring service. I spend at least 15 minutes each day catching up on this news so I can monitor any issues which may result in any incoming media enquiries. It also provides me with an opportunity to see if any statements the media team provided to journalists the previous day were picked up in the news.
I try to plan my priorities for the day but this will change greatly depending on the amount of media requests and enquires the team receives throughout the day.
The Media Services' aim is to deliver high quality advice and products to the Ministers' offices and internal client areas to raise awareness of the department's programs and activities to external audiences. So put plainly, there is never a dull day in this team.
Usually, I will have a media release to draft and I have to begin my preparation and research. Today, the media release request has come from the Deputy Prime Minister's Office (DPMO), so I reach out to the relevant line area to receive any extra information on the topic. The benefit of working in this team is that we have the opportunity to work on materials for all of the department's programs, meaning our work covers a huge range of topics. Today I'm working on a freight release, but yesterday I was drafting up talking points for the Building Better Regions Fund. I thoroughly enjoy engaging with all areas of the department.
Lunchtime is really flexible at my workplace, so I usually take mine from 12:30–1 pm. Depending on my workload, I will sometimes take a longer break. The graduates all meet down in the lobby to eat lunch together, which is a really nice way to break up the day. The graduate program has allowed us to meet some really great, like-minded people and I am very grateful to be able to go to work and see these people every day.
Back to my desk to finalise the release from this morning. I send to my supervisor for clearance before sending to the line area for a final fact-check. The DPMO's deadline is COB so I will hopefully receive it back before the end of the day.
We have received a few urgent enquiries from the DPMO, all relating to the recent update on international passenger arrival caps. To progress enquiries as quickly as possible, the media team drafts a proposed response to pass onto the line area. The line area then reviews the response, editing as they wish, before sending back to us. We then utilise our communication skills to ensure the response aligns with the key messaging of this department.
As we have had similar enquiries recently, I go back to find a relevant response which can be modified to reflect the enquiry I am currently working on. I then send it off to the Aviation team to review. Stakeholder engagement and corporate knowledge are both key to this role and assist with proposing responses and finding the correct line areas to engage with.
To ensure everything is on track, I call the line areas to check in to see how the media release and enquiry are going. Sometimes we need to manage expectations with journalists or the Offices to push back deadlines, so it's crucial to keep communicating with all key contacts until the work is finalised. I have to run off to help set up Happy Hour now, as that is my committee in the Social Club, so I have advised my team on what I am expecting in the afternoon and if they could please tie off both the media release and enquiry once received. Another great thing about this team is we all work so well together, and work can be easily picked up by other members of the team if necessary.
As part of Social Club, the department runs a Happy Hour every second Friday to raise money for charities and the Christmas Party, providing an opportunity for employees to network in a relaxed setting. As one of the Happy Hour coordinators, it is my job to order the stock, prepare the venue and run the event on the night. I really lucked out with my Social Club committee as it means I get to finish work early on a Friday, hang out with the other graduates and meet a broad range of people from the department.
After a terrific Happy Hour, we managed to make $500 which will go into our Social Club fund. After not being able to run events throughout the majority of 2020, it is great that we are finally able to organise Happy Hours towards the end of the year and any money made is an added benefit.
Now it's time to clean up and head to dinner with the graduates who came along to support Happy Hour!