Updating Results

TAL Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Aaron Marc Long

Build your soft skills with an emphasis on being able to communicate your ideas across. These are really valuable to have in any industry.

Where did you grow up?

I don't think my story is too spectacular as I've pretty much been based in Sydney for my life growing up.

However, I've got a bit of the 'travel bug' in that I've been overseas quite a lot during uni. (Much to the disapproval of my wallet)

I think one of the highlights for me was joining a society at uni called Enactus UNSW whose collective goal is to use entrepreneurship to create social impact. Every year there is a friendly showcase/competition between all the different universities regionally and then later at a world stage where teams display what progress they've made and the impact they have created. In my second year being a part of Enactus, I went to the United States and Canada with a few others to spectate the competition at the world level and was amazed by the enormous impact that some universities have made overseas.

In terms of my working history, my first job was at Officeworks where I worked in the technology area for around four and a half years and later joined TAL where I have been working in different roles since 2016.
How did you get to your current job position?

I originally started at TAL as an IT intern as part of a vacancy in UNSW's Co-op Program where I worked for 3 months in the data space (2016-17). A few months later, I was fortunate enough to come back as a Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse Developer for the team that I interned with, working there until I joined the graduate program in 2019. Since joining the graduate program, I've worked on the IT Strategy & Architecture team as well as the Cloud Engineering team and I'm now currently on a rotation outside of IT in the Innovation space.
How did you choose your specialisation?

For myself, I was weighing up whether I should go down a more business-oriented path or dive deeper into IT. In the end, I chose to stick with IT as I really enjoyed the hands-on nature of the development work I'd been doing for my part-time role at TAL and wanted to become more proficient with new technologies.
What was your interview process like?

Apart from the usual nerves that I think everyone gets during interviews, I think it was fairly relaxed with props to the interviewers for being really friendly and engaging. The interview was more focused around getting to know about me as a person, my interests, and my career goals. e.g. a bunch of questions revolved around my part-time experience and time with Enactus.
What does your employer do?

TAL (This Australian Life) is a life insurer who prides itself on protecting people and not things. A common phrase I hear from leaders at TAL is that at the end of the day we're here to pay claims and help people when they need it most.
What are your areas of responsibility?

I'm currently in a rotational program so this tends to change every 6 months however some of my responsibilities have been around database development, vendor comparisons, azure resource manager template building, and uplifting development practices. 

I also try to get involved with some of the various activities at TAL whether it be creating internal promo videos, helping to organise IT events, and collaborating with my graduate cohort for fundraising/volunteering events.
Can you describe a typical workday?

I can't say there's a generic workday that you should expect. However, most mornings I'll wake up around 7 and after getting ready/commuting, I reach work around 8.30 am. Throughout the day, there are usually a few meetings sprinkled here and there with a coffee to kickstart my brain in the morning. At the moment, I'm on my external rotation in the innovation space where I'm trying to bring the knowledge and best practices that I've learned in my previous teams to help uplift the team's development practices e.g. setting up Azure DevOps repositories and pipelines for code deployments. I'm also looking at different options for deploying a project that we have so I've been spending some time each day learning about the different cloud technologies available to us. This week, I've been participating in a Microsoft Open Hack event running across 3 days with another team member so it's fair to say that there are always some exciting opportunities available during your rotations! 
What are the career prospects with your job?

Being such a broad area, there's definitely a lot of avenues that I can pursue after the graduate program. You could be a technical business analyst, a developer specialising in different areas of front & back-end development, a security analyst, a cloud engineer and the list goes on!
Could someone with a different background do your job?

Definitely! I think IT is such a broad area that you can almost always find something that will captivate you and allow you to excel. I've met a lot of people in IT who have come from completely different backgrounds. The only grain of salt is that the more technical roles may require a bit more effort and study for someone who hasn't studied a similar field.  

What would your career be if you weren't doing what you're doing now?

If I wasn't doing what I was currently, I'd probably have a crack at building a start-up/social enterprise. (Whether I'd be successful or not is another question) Either that or I'd try my hand at being a travel YouTuber although I'd probably put on a lot of weight from all the food I would be trying!
What do you love most about your job?

I think the three things which I love the most about my job at TAL are:

  1.  The ability to rotate every six months and work in different areas of IT allowing me to challenge myself and get a better idea of where I'd like to go career-wise in the future.
  2.   The learning opportunities in various teams e.g. when I was working in the Cloud Engineering team, I participated in training for the Azure Fundamentals and Azure Security Technologies courses and managed to pass both accreditations in December last year!
  3.   The work-life balance/culture

I really enjoy working on hands-on/practical tasks because it's the easiest way for me to learn concepts and technical skills.
What's the biggest limitation of your job?

I always feel that there's more to learn in technology which can be quite daunting at times. In terms of responsibility, I've been quite happy about being given ownership over a lot of large tasks throughout my working life at TAL however this doesn't mean I'm stuck working weekends and late nights. You have your usual ups and downs regarding stress but it's always at manage-able levels and if it's not there's your team to support you through it.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  • I think getting experience during university is a very powerful tool to have in your belt when you start applying for graduate positions in the final year. It shows that you are motivated and also gives you a taste of potential areas that you might want to pursue as a career.
  • Travel!
  • Build your soft skills with an emphasis on being able to communicate your ideas across. These are really valuable to have in any industry.