What’s your name? What did you study? When did you graduate?
My name is Aaron Kuswara. I studied a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW and I graduated in 2022. Prior to that I also completed a Bachelor of Communication (Visual Communication), which I completed in 2007.
Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)
I grew up in Sydney and moved to Canberra for the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) graduate program in early 2022. In a previous life I was a graphic designer, specialising in typography, branding and dabbled in some motion graphics (I was fortunate enough to have worked with some talented creatives on Flume’s first touring live show). After working in the ad industry for a while, I desperately needed a change of pace and a change of direction – 3 years of deliberation later, I went back to university to start my engineering degree.
Can you describe a typical workday?
I am writing this in my first rotation, noting that across the different sections at the agency the work can be quite varied. Additionally, there is a lot of flexibility in the CER to work from home or work in the office. That being said, my typical workday starts at 9 am – reading emails and checking what meetings I will be attending for the day. At 9:30 am, our section has a morning stand-up, allowing us to socialise for the first part, and then update the rest of the team on our workload and capacities.
From there, my workday is very fluid, where I will typically be attending meetings, completing section related work, or chipping away at my Graduate Development Program work. Throw in a half-hour lunch, and that’s what my workday typically looks like.
Suppose a student was considering CER’s Graduate Program. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills that would be beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
My grad cohort has a range of different educational backgrounds, from history majors, to climate science, languages, law and engineering, so no one educational pathway will exclude you from a job at the CER! A baseline understanding of climate and environmental issues through a policy and economic lens will give you a head start.
On a personal anecdotal note, my engineering background was beneficial for my rotation placements. I was able to leverage my knowledge of renewable energy and hydrogen technology to contribute to my section.
Lastly, experience with data and a robust level of data comprehension will go a long way. At the CER we deal with a lot of data, so excel and coding skills (R) will help you to tick boxes.
What do you love most about your job? What kind of task do you enjoy doing the most?
Being surrounded by like-minded people who care about the environment and are actively working towards mechanisms to reduce emissions is not only inspiring but makes coming into work easy. There hasn’t been one task that I’ve enjoyed over another – I’ve taken my first few months at the CER as an opportunity to learn from some seasoned veterans who have been addressing climate change for a while now.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
Either taking a year off to go climbing or working as an energy analyst somewhere.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?