Juliana tells us about her experience as a Temporary Clerical Officer (TCO) in the Finance unit of the Department of Social Protection. While a TCO, Juliana applied for the permanent Clerical Officer competition and was successful in the selection process. After exactly one year, having worked in two sections in Facilities Management, Juliana was assigned to her current permanent position as a Clerical Officer in the Goods & Services Team of the Department of Social Protection.

Tell us about your experience as a Temporary Clerical Officer in the Civil Service?

My Temporary Clerical Officer (TCO) journey began in the Finance unit, where I was responsible for administrative and clerical support in the payments-input and receiving invoices, as well as maintaining a professional relationship with the suppliers, supporting the team with ongoing queries and processing data in accordance with the policies and procedures. I began with an 8-week contract, and then I was offered a new contract in the Health & Safety Unit. My role within this team was to promote and organise health and safety training for staff throughout the country, as well as support my team in providing health and safety support and advice to the staff of this department. While I was a TCO I applied for a permanent Clerical Officer competition through publicjobs.ie and was successful. After exactly one year, having worked in two sections of Facilities Management, I was assigned to my current permanent position as Clerical Officer in the Goods & Services Team. Along with clerical officer administrative duties, we maintain the security, cleaning, and carrier services for the Department, dealing with a variety of suppliers. We are responsible for ensuring quality accommodation is provided and maintained to the highest standard for customers and staff. The Facilities Management Unit is made up of many sections that work together daily, including Estate Management, which provides building maintenance and services to all departmental buildings; the Procurement Unit; the Finance Unit; the Climate Action and Strategic Planning Unit; the Health and Safety unit; and my current section, the Goods & Services unit.

Tell us a little about your career path to your current role?

As I mentioned, I had a long and fun journey in retail. I worked since I was 16 (legal in Brazil), from Sales Assistant to Store Manager. Since I moved to Ireland in 2014, I have learned all levels of customer service and people skills. Because of my desire to learn English, I worked as a childminder, a cleaner, and in a variety of shops around Dublin, where I learned most of my English. I built up my network and learned more about Irish culture. All of these experiences have definitely helped me to be where I am, and to keep motivated and inspired to keep growing and achieving more. I started in the Civil Service as a Temporary Clerical Officer and the experience gained led to my being successful in a permanent Clerical Officer competition run by publicjobs.ie. I am now a permanent Clerical Officer in the Department of Social Protection, a position which I am proud to hold, and I am hoping to progress further in my career by availing of training and promotion opportunities available going forward.

What opportunities has the role provided you with so far?

I started as a Temporary Clerical Officer and had the opportunity to undertake a range of training to help my learning progress in each section I worked in during my first year. I started in Finance and had the opportunity to improve my Excel skills (something I know most people have a fear of) thanks to the One Learning Platform, which is available to all staff across the Civil Service. Thanks also to my colleagues, who were always so supportive and helped me to settle with confidence. As I was mainly responsible for coordinating all internal and external Health & Safety training for Departmental staff across Ireland, I was able to develop my coordination and administrative abilities. I also had the opportunity to attend Health and Safety training such as Fire Warden training. I've now joined the Facilities Management team and have had the chance to finish Module 1 of the Certificate of Social Protection Studies promoted by the Staff Development Unit in Partnership with and delivered by the NCI. I've had more training in my first year in the Civil Service than I had in the previous five years. Since my first day in the Department of Social Protection, the encouragement and support received from colleagues has helped me to lay the groundwork for my career.

Why did you choose a career in the Public Sector?

I made my decision during the lockdown. I had worked in retail for the previous 13 years. Also, as a parent, I felt like I needed to work somewhere with a better work-life balance so that I could experience the most memorable years of my son's life. When I first applied, I had no idea what kind of benefits would be available. For me, the introduction of the hybrid working environment was undeniably a life-changing experience . Parenting assistance in the form of a Shorter Working Year or a Career Break is available. There is a staff support unit that not just provides education programmes but also provides mental health support and other well being supports to ensure that all employees have the greatest working conditions possible.

What advice would you give someone thinking of applying for a Temporary Clerical Officer role?

Just get started! You will be surprised by the amount of support and assistance available not just from the Department but also from the people with whom you will be working. I can say this without hesitation because I am Brazilian, and English is my second language. Even though I have lived here for almost a decade, I was stepping into a new field where I knew I would be "tested" and I am the only foreign person in the office. I was concerned that I would face some challenges and feel excluded, or that I would not be understood or understand people, a very common insecurity as a foreigner whenever we start something new. What I found, however, was an amazing and welcoming reception, where all those people were inspired by my courage to be there, and have shown so much kindness and patience to literally teach me words and things that were completely new to me; this is so valuable, and it shows a lot about the actual culture of the Civil Service, which is to help and support our people, and so now I am proudly part of that culture.