Saturday, February 12, 2011

Having a career through training courses

In the comments down there, a person named Anonymous said she was being sent on a training course to learn how to have a career. I, too, will be attending such a course in some few weeks. After that I expect you all to address me as 'sir' and to compliment me on my suit.

You can see I have some prejudices about constructing a career. I hope the course I am attending is not one of those de-programming kinds of jobbies where I am beaten with hosepipe and not allowed to go to the toilet while having my eyelids propped open with matchsticks.*

I have attended very much training in my last three years as a public servant. My public service anniversary was, in fact, 4 February 2011. The first two weeks were entirely training, if you can believe such a thing. Important bits I remember are how fire sprinklers work, that we should have our chairs at a comfortable level, how to make a tower out of spaghetti and straws and that some of my new colleagues were so competitive that they would rather everyone in the group lose if they couldn't as individuals win. I am still processing that last bit, but thinking about it sometimes makes me cry still. I suspect they also taught us about filing, writing letters to members of the public and where the ATM was. That knowledge has all become so entrenched that I can't really imagine not knowing it, so I can't really remember learning it.

Other training courses I have attended at work include:
  • team building (and finding out what colour my personality is)
  • managing up
  • negotation skills (finding out what letter my personality is)
  • innovative thinking (finding out it doesn't matter what colour your personality is, provided you have six thinking hats of different colours)
My personal favourite trainig of all time is 'Public Service Accountabilities'. In this fabulous course (and I am not being sarcastic) you learn about what it is that makes public servants so noble and useful in the world, and how not to waste the money of the glorious taxpayer. I avoid wasting the taxpayer's money, and avoid traffic at the same time, but taking the train to the airport in Sydney. My next money saving attitude is to avoid going to Sydney in the firstplace, but sometimes that approach fails.

However, despite the smart-arsy tone up there, I do love going to training. One of the things I really, really miss about university is sitting around in a room with a bunch of more-or-less interesting and pleasant companions and just learning stuff. Apparently it turns out that I don't so much mind what stuff I'm learning. Although I can tell you, I won't be writing an essay on team building any time this side of NEVER EVER.

I could propose saving taxpayer money by doing less training, but generally each course does give one or two dashed handy hints or bits of information. And it also stops me from losing my mind and becoming very inefficient, ineffective and uneconomical.**

Anyway, I have no sensible way to wrap up this little diversion. The End.

*You can see which kinds of novels and movies I get my ideas from can't you?

**Recently the procurement guidelines were altered from telling us that spending had to be 'efficient, effective and ethical' to efficient, effective, ethical and economical'. This seems to be rather uneconomical and duplicatey to me, I must say.


Roger Parkinson said...

Gosh. Not having worked in the public service my nearest equivalent is the courses I went to in my last proper job (um 20 years ago...). The technical ones were good and useful, the fluffy ones were a waste of time.

I am prepared to believe your courses are better/different, of course. Sometimes.

Penthe said...

What, you mean finding out what colour your personality is didn't utterly change your life for the better? Goodness *wide eyed look*.


kazari said...

my ex started as a grad in a big department, and got one very, very useful piece of career advice. His first director told him that he should get some experience:
- in program delivery
- in policy
- in a state office
- in a central agency.

it turned out to be spot on.
5 years from grad to EL2.
ta dah!
assuming one wants to be an EL2 of course.

Penthe said...

Do you have to get experience in a state office if your entire career aim is to stay in Canberra for as long as possible?

kazari said...

i wouldn't think so, but it certainly helped...
i think it would depend on the department, too. this particular department seems to have an 'us and them' attitude towards the state offices, which could be broached by personal experience (and contacts). not sure if you're in the same sort of environment.

kazari said...

that said, same advice is pretty useless unless you actually are a policy hack - geeks like me have no chance, unless we go private or get managementy.

Penthe said...

Yep, I am a policy hack. Also, we don't have any state offices, but you never know if a person might consider changing departments one day. That sounds like whole of career advice, really. But I do prefer Canberra.