UTS IT and Business graduate, Amy Robertson is both a Westpac Scholar and Westpac Grad – here she talks about her experience of both programs.
Why did you choose to study technology?
Technology is all about solving problems in creative ways. I didn’t consider studying technology until a few weeks before degree preferences closed. I hadn’t ever considered it as a path for me until I was in a classroom coding for the first time and loved it. To use a device that was so familiar to me – a computer – in a way that let me crack it open and look inside to figure out new things.
Was a scholarship always in your sights?
I applied for the Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship, but never thought I’d get it with no background in the field. I had to push myself past the fear of rejection and remind myself that an email back saying ‘unsuccessful’ was the worst thing that could happen. Next minute I found myself in an interview, receiving a congratulatory email and then in a hotel in Sydney at the first Westpac Scholar Summit – it was a whirlwind experience that I honestly never imagined.
Were there many females enrolled in your degree? Were your family and friends supportive?
I remember when I told my favourite high school teacher that I was planning to study IT and Business, she was flabbergasted. It didn’t match anything I’d done before, but my gut instinct was that it was for me. I went from art and English classes crowded with girls, to a tech class of 30 where I was one of three girls. I never backed down from a challenge though and still ended up leading every group project.
What advice would you give your younger self? How do we encourage more females to pursue STEM degrees and careers?
Don’t limit yourself to one idea! I wanted to be a teacher so badly when I was younger, I ignored other parts of my life that were of interest or that I had a natural ability. Be open to other options for your future and explore them properly. Furthermore, if you think you dislike something at school, try it in a different context. Go to a university experience day, go to a class in the holidays because things can be so different in real life compared to how they’re taught in school. I think this is a major reason why females don’t pursue STEM, they have a bad experience in school and lose interest. Give it another go in a totally different way. A good experience can totally reshape the way you perceive a topic, career or industry, so don’t ignore new experiences because of one bad time at school.
What opportunities have come from your Westpac Young Technologists Scholarship?
In the beginning of 2017, my second year at Uni, I interned with Westpac for my first ever corporate role. I remember being so nervous and unsure on how to even write an email to being thrown in to a one-on-one with the then Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Deputy CEO, Dave Curran! Even though I was petrified everyone always made me feel comfortable and valued. In 2018 I had the privilege of being a NSW State Champ for the Westpac 100 Scholars Network, and organised events for my other Westpac Scholars and got exposure to my NSW peers in the program, meeting a range of wonderful people. I love that I’m part of a W100 Network, I can be watching the news and someone like Joel Pilgrim, a 2018 Westpac Scholar, will come on promoting his organisation, Waves of Wellness and I can say ‘wait – I know him!’. The unique exposure to such driven and intelligent people, is what I find so valuable about this scholarship.
Why did you choose to apply for Summer Intern/Grad Program – why Westpac?
I knew I’d be supported and challenged in the Westpac Grad Program. The opportunity to move around the business in the four rotations offers an opportunity that is really rare, you get to put yourself in areas outside your comfort zone to learn new skills in a really positive environment that embraces mistakes and encourages taking a risk to try something new.
Can you tell us about the diversity of projects you’ve worked on since obtaining the intern/grad role?
Working on the Aternity project to assist other Westpac employees in their transition to work from home during Covid, was really good because I felt like I was actively adding value to the business in a time of chaos with the lockdowns beginning. With a small group of Grads we got to present our work back to Westpac Group CIO Craig Bright and help over a thousand employees to have a better work from home experience and improve their device operation. This was completely separate to my actual rotation and it was awesome to see how flexible the business was in adapting to these changes.
What does your future career path look like?
To become a data guru. I want to understand the entire pipeline to create a solution in data and work with Westpac to get those skills really developed. I think down the track I’d like to consult small and medium businesses on using data in their business and upskill them in this space so they can utilise the power it holds.
Published 18 December 2020