Meet Aparna

Aparna Nair is a former Graduate in the 2018 cohort, she now works as a Senior Cyber Security Advisor at the Department of Customer Service. We interviewed Aparna when she commenced the Graduate Program.


What did you study and where?

I completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Science) (Honours) and a Masters of Biomedical Engineering at UNSW.

What made you want to apply for the NSW Government Graduate program?

After completing my degree, I wasn’t sure what type of work I would find enjoyable. The NSW Government Graduate program offered rotations across various agencies and teams which would help me experience a variety of different work environments. With the opportunities the program offers, it seemed silly not to apply. I wanted to work in a diverse workplace which also gives back to the community. 

In my first rotation I was placed in a whole of government cyber security team, I now work here as a Senior Cyber Security Advisor. I developed a strong interest and passion for cyber security here with an amazing team culture and continued my other graduate rotations in cyber security roles. I have been so lucky with all my rotations having undertaken exciting work in supportive teams, and formed great connections along the way. 

What were three key things you learned in the graduate program?

  • Don’t doubt yourself because you may surprise yourself. There have been many times I have felt the imposter syndrome kick in. Trust in your ability and deliver your best work and you’ll develop many new skills in the process. 

  • Communication is key. Build connections and relationships with your team, other teams and your stakeholders. Being part of the Cyber Security NSW Awareness, Training and Resilience team, it is important we can communicate cyber security concepts across NSW Government in a multitude of ways as everyone learns differently. 

  • Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility! I have learnt so much about cyber security during my graduate program and ongoing role. I take every opportunity I can to educate cyber security best practice on my family and close friends. 

Can you tell us about the work you have been involved in?

I have been involved in a wide variety of tasks from organising fake phishing emails to be sent out to staff, developing training modules and awareness videos and running large events with media coverage. An interesting project I’ve been involved with is competing in Capture the Flag competitions. This project uses open source intelligence gathering to help law enforcement locate missing people.

What advice would you give a student thinking about applying for the graduate program?

When I was making my decision choosing between graduate programs to accept, I remember being very stressed out deciding to either follow the path of my degree, or exploring something completely different. I’m extremely glad I picked the ICT/Digital stream as part of the NSW Government Graduate Program and landed in a field I am passionate about. Most of us won’t know what we like until we experience it, so always say yes to new opportunities and make new connections along the way.