How to land a graduate role if you’re an international student

Students graduating in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic have a hard enough time trying to get a graduate role, but if you are an international student, this can feel like an impossible task. 

Does this sound familiar?

“Applicants must be Australian Citizens or an Australian Permanent Resident.”

Literally 95% of job ads.

Usually LDS publishes the list of vacation and summer internships as well as graduate programs that international students actually have a hope of landing. But this year, well, we’ve been a bit preoccupied (you know, the global pandemic and all that). Instead, we’ve put together a list of graduate programs that take on internationals, and either has a named data science stream or have a heavy focus on implementing big data analytics.

If you come across any more, please leave the link in the comments to add them to the list. At the bottom of this post is a list of companies that are known to hire International students. Remember, you have 12-24 months to apply after you graduate.

The information we have provided below is is a comprehensive but not complete summary of our views based on experience and discussions with many data science graduates. It should be viewed as opinion only.

Why don’t Australian companies want us?

This is a matter of economics rather than anything against international students themselves. It’s problematic the reasons that many Australian companies don’t take internationals are not made widely known. For example, we hear this a lot.

“They don’t take international students, that’s so racist.”

Clueless.

Don’t worry, they aren’t racist. Far from it in fact. This is a matter of money. Australian companies will opt not to take on International graduates because they are more expensive to hire than domestic graduates. If you notice, most require PR or citizenship, not for you to be born in Australia. 

In an interview from AFR, Coles communications manager Jasmine Zwiebel commented

“We have taken the position not to hire graduates on student or skilled visas because our intention is that the graduates stay with us for a long time, to build a great career with us.

Jasmine Zwiebel, Coles communications manager

Australian companies will invest a lot of time and money training their graduate hires, the prospect of those hires leaving in 2-3 years just doesn’t add up economically and is a huge risk to the business. Hence PR is needed as a sort of guarantor that you won’t bail after you are trained up. But it’s not as if they think that international students are inferior. Zwiebel went onto say

“There are many benefits of hiring international students, but for Coles, it’s not right for us today. We currently don’t hire graduates on student and skilled visas; however, we do make our vacation program available to students on these visas”.”

Jasmine Zwiebel, Coles communications manager

So while you’re valued, Australian business are not at the point where they can afford to take the risk, but are taking steps to secure quality graduates in the hopes that they will stay.

But I’ll stay in Australia. I want to get PR! 

Sure we get it, Australia is an amazing place to live. But the thing is that companies can’t really hold you your promise that you will stay. And they don’t need to when the domestic supply of data science graduates is on the rise. And while there may still be a shortage of domestic graduates, there definitely isn’t a shortage of international ones.

One of the main issues is that there are a lot of international graduates. In 2018, 50,000 international students were on a 485 visa.  That number has only gone up from then.

In fields such as data science, the vast majority of graduating students are international. This makes it super competitive for all who apply to those few companies that take on international students as graduate hires. This isn’t even including those studying overseas who apply for jobs here in Australia. 

The lesson is that you need to make yourself as competitive as possible. That’s on you, not the university you are at, or the company that you are applying to work at.

“P’s and C’s might get degrees. But only HD’s and a well-rounded resume with community work, sports or hobbies, scholarships and academic awards get a grad role.”

LDS

 Hmmm, we’ll workshop that saying.

How to give yourself the best chance of getting a job!

This is on you. Australian business culture is built on hard work, initiative and fairness. No one hands anything to anyone. And if you expect that, then you are going to be in for a rude shock.

Do your research

This article is a good start, but you need to treat this like a part-time job. Even for domestic students landing a graduate role takes time and effort work. There are many reports, academic articles, and government papers on the issue. Such as this one from the International Education Association of Australia. 

A word of warning, most of these are aimed at convincing Australian businesses why they should hire international students. Take them with a pinch of salt, but use them to understand the issues and the language. Honestly, it will help you in the long run. 

Boost your WAM

Most companies asking for a D average actually mean an HD. Again, you are competing with a huge number of graduates. That minimum WAM of 70% isn’t a hurdle. It’s a signal to say, “if you have a WAM below this, don’t bother applying.” 

Apply for vacation and summer internships

While many companies won’t hire international students without PR, they will take you on for paid internships while you are still studying. Landing an internship will go a long way to helping you get a role at a company that does hire international graduates. This is because a completed internship acts as a stamp of approval that says, ‘this kid knows their stuff and is a good worker.’ Head to our 2019 list of internships for international students to get an idea of where to apply.

Keep your nose clean

This means behave yourself. Particularly in the larger cities (Melbourne and Sydney), the academic world and the business world are interconnected. Many of your lecturers and tutors will have major connections to people at more prominent companies, and if they are asked about you, they will be honest about that the fact that you were repeatedly late or didn’t engage in class discussions, because that doesn’t look good for the way you would act in the workplace. No one wants a lazy, disinterested employee. Also, you will also need to provide an Australian referee, and your tutors and lecturers may be the only people you can ask. So it’s in your best interest to make a good impression. 

 Network network network

This is key. Groups like Data Science Melbourne, have great internship and job networking opportunities. . While COVID-19 may put a dampner on face-to-face meetings, this doesn’t stop you from attending one hosted online. 

Ok now to some graduate programs

GRADUATE PROGRAMS

DELOITTE

Technology Graduate Program

“Each new employee is paired up with a guide and a coach to help with a smooth transition into Deloitte life. We provide the right kinds of tools and training to ensure all our graduates can achieve career success through mentoring, peer support and e-learning. Depending on your business unit, we offer the chance to develop further through professional study such as the Chartered Accountants Program and Masters of Tax.”

Closes: 17th Aug 2020, 11:59 pm

Location: Canberra, Paramatta, Sydney, Alice Springs, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth

Internationals: Yes

More information.

PWC

PwC Graduate Program

“As one of Australia’s leading professional services firms, we have the opportunity to create meaningful societal change. From growing trust in food production to building hope in artificial intelligence, our people create trust in society and solve important problems each day. By creating a Graduate career with us, here you’ll be provided with the opportunities you need to contribute to a ‘bigger picture’.”

Closes: Already closed but reopens Feburary 2021  (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) 24th March 2019 (Adelaide, Canberra and Newcastle)

Location: Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Newcastle

Internationals: Yes

More information.

KPMG

Graduate Program

“At KPMG, we want you to discover the path that excites you most. After all, when you find a practice area you love, you’ll reach your potential that much faster. It goes without saying that we’re looking for graduates who are passionate and curious – smart individuals who are seeking a challenging and rewarding career. Here, you’ll be part of an outstanding team working across a diverse client list. You’ll be dealing with complex issues that will stretch your thinking. And you’ll have opportunities to learn and grow unlike anywhere else.”

Closes: 21st August 20210 5:00pm

Location: Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide & Regions, Melbourne and Sydney.

Internationals: Yes

More information.

TELSTRA

Telstra Graduate Program 

“The program offers you 12 months of challenging, hands-on and rewarding work that will give you the confidence and know-how to launch your career and achieve your goals. If you’re successful, you’ll work in an environment that’s embracing ways of working like Agile, DevOps, Human Centred Design and Lean. You’ll also be able to collaborate with the best people in their field and have the knowledge that your ideas will always be welcome.”

Closes: 24th March 2019, 12:55 pm

Location: Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Telstra also have applications for positions in Asia

Internationals: Yes

Starting: Applications are now closed but will open up again in early February 2021

More Information.

SUNCORP

Technology graduate program https://youtu.be/NcMLUyuqLB8

“Suncorp’s Graduate Program is a two-year accelerated development program designed to equip you with the tools you need to launch your career in the corporate world. We are ranked a Top 100 Graduate Employer in AU and NZ – Join us in 2021! Our graduates will experience the opportunity to work on diversified projects, be supported by a mentor and if interested, can rotate within their business area. “

The following business areas are on offer with multiple positions for the Suncorp 2021 Graduate intake. 

  • Data & Enterprise Tech: Data Analyst (Brisbane)
  • Insurance Tech: Software Engineers (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne); Business Analyst (Brisbane); Developers (Melbourne);
  • Banking & Wealth Tech: Software Engineers (Brisbane); Systems engineer (Brisbane); Developer (Brisbane); Business analyst (Brisbane)
  • Infrastructure: System Engineer (Brisbane)
  • Cyber Security & Risk: Developer (Brisbane / Sydney); Analyst (Brisbane / Sydney)
  • Automation: Developer (Brisbane)
  • Strategy & Transformation: Developer (Brisbane)

Closes: 23rd August 2020, 5:00pm

Location: Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne.

More information

This is what we have for now, but will update this page regularly. Alternatively, you may want to look at the following companies that are either known to take on international graduates, or have stated they intended to as of 2021. 

Good luck!

  • South32
  • Rio Tinto
  • REA
  • CarSales.com
  • City West Water
  • Digital Alchemy
  • Atlassian
  • AstraZeneca
  • Carlton & United Breweries
  • EML
  • FDM Group
  • Grand Metal
  • IRESS
  • Annalect
  • SAS
  • Schneider Electric
  • Tibra Capital
  • Strategy&
  • LEK
  • TAL
  • SIG
  • WPP Consulting
  • ThoughtWorks

Photo by Husna Miskandar on Unsplash

Vacation and Summer Internships for International Students 2019

March Madness is here again, and for International students, this can be a frustrating time.

“Applicants must be Australian Citizens or an Australian Permanent Resident.”

Right?

So LDS has got your back. Here’s a list of vacation and summer internships as well as graduate programs that are closing fairly soon. All of these programs either have a named data science stream or have a heavy focus on implementing big data analytics.

If you come across any more, please leave the link in the comments so we can add them to the list. At the bottom of this post is a list of companies that are known to hire International students. Their applications have now closed for the 2019/20 season. But remember you have 12-24 months to apply after you graduate.

Vacation and Summer Internships

Deloitte

Technology Internship Program
“You’ll spend three to eight weeks in one of our business units whilst getting a taste for what it’s really like to work in a leading professional services firm. At the end of the placement you will leave with the prospect of securing a graduate position, skipping the queue for a final year graduate placement


Closes: 17th March 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Canberra, Paramatta, Sydney, Alice Springs, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth
Internationals: Yes
Length: 3-8 weeks
Starting: Early January 2020
More information

PwC

PwC Vacation Program
“Gain valuable experience and develop the skills and networks needed to create a meaningful career. Did you know that most of our vacationers receive an offer for a full-time graduate position after completing the program? If this isn’t reason enough to apply, then read on…If you’re in your second last year of university in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, our summer Vacation Program offers you first-hand experience at the heart of our business. The program runs over three to eight weeks (length varies per state) and includes full-time work experience during your university break, allowing you to get a head-start in your career before graduating.”

Closes: 17th March 2019, 5:00pm (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) 24th March 2019 (Adelaide, Canberra and Newcastle).
Location: Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Newcastle
Internationals: Yes
Length: 12 weeks
Starting: Early November 2019 – January 2020
More Information – Technology

South32

Technology Internship Program
“South32 is a globally diversified mining and metals company. We produce [various metals] at our operations in Australia, Southern Africa and South America.We are also the owner of a high-grade zinc, lead and silver development option in North America and have several partnerships with junior explorers with a focus on base metals.”

Closes: 31st March 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Perth
Internationals: Yes
Length: 12 weeks
Starting: 25th November 2019 – 14th February 2020
More Information.

KPMG

Vacation Program
“Our Vacation Program allows you to experience day-to-day-life at KPMG. You can feel what it’s like to be part of the team, working directly alongside our people. Want an insider’s view in to the world of KPMG? As part of our Vacation Program, you’ll discover first hand what’s it like to join one of the world’s leading professional services firms.”

Closes: 7th April 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Parramatta, Perth, Sydney, Hobart, Launceston and Wollongong.
Internationals: Yes
Length: 6 weeks in Adelaide, 8 weeks everywhere else.
Starting: Summer 2019/20

Google

Information Technology Intern
“This program is designed to provide exposure to the technology industry for students who are historically under-represented in this field. Behind Google’s simple search box is one of the most complex technology infrastructures in the world. And behind that infrastructure is a diverse group of Googlers who design, build and keep the lights on for our users. We believe that in addition to hiring the best talent, hiring for a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures leads to the creation of better products and services.”

Closes: 13th May 2019, 6:00pm
Location: Sydney
Internationals: Yes
Length: 12 weeks
Starting: Summer 2019/20

Telstra

Telstra Summer Vacation Program
“At Telstra, we know development is a key ingredient for a successful career, so we’ll support you with a dedicated manager to help and guide you, as well as a graduate buddy to share their own experiences with you. We give our Summer Vacationers continual support and formal development sessions to build skills and technical knowledge. Your bi-monthly training and development sessions will cover everything from commercial acumen and managing your career, networking and building your personal brand, to practical training on presentation skills, time management and up skilling on the use of key Microsoft Office tools.”

Opens: June/July 2019
Location: Australia Wide
Internationals: Yes
Length: 12 weeks
Starting: Summer 2019/20
More Information.

Graduate Programs

Deloitte

Technology Graduate Program
“Each new employee is paired up with a guide and a coach to help with a smooth transition into Deloitte life. We provide the right kinds of tools and training to ensure all our graduates can achieve career success through mentoring, peer support and e-learning. Depending on your business unit, we offer the chance to develop further through professional study such as the Chartered Accountants Program and Masters of Tax.”

Closes: 17th March 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Canberra, Paramatta, Sydney, Alice Springs, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early March and early July.
More Information.

PwC

PwC Graduate Program
“As one of Australia’s leading professional services firms, we have the opportunity to create meaningful societal change. From growing trust in food production to building hope in artificial intelligence, our people create trust in society and solve important problems each day. By creating a Graduate career with us, here you’ll be provided with the opportunities you need to contribute to a ‘bigger picture’.”

Closes: 17th March 2019, 5:00pm (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) 24th March 2019 (Adelaide, Canberra and Newcastle)
Location: Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Newcastle
Internationals: Yes
Length:12 weeks
Starting: Early November 2019 – January 2020

KPMG

Graduate Program
“At KPMG, we want you to discover the path that excites you most. After all, when you find a practice area you love, you’ll reach your potential that much faster. It goes without saying that we’re looking for graduates who are passionate and curious – smart individuals who are seeking a challenging and rewarding career. Here, you’ll be part of an outstanding team working across a diverse client list. You’ll be dealing with complex issues that will stretch your thinking. And you’ll have opportunities to learn and grow unlike anywhere else.”

Closes: 24th March 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide & Regions (Melbourne and Sydney closed on the 10th March)
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February.

Telstra

Telstra Graduate Program 
“The program offers you 12 months of challenging, hands-on and rewarding work that will give you the confidence and know-how to launch your career and achieve your goals. If you’re successful, you’ll work in an environment that’s embracing ways of working like Agile, DevOps, Human Centred Design and Lean. You’ll also be able to collaborate with the best people in their field and have the knowledge that your ideas will always be welcome.”

Closes: 24th March 2019, 12:55 pm
Location: Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February
More Information – Data Analytics and Management Program

Procter & Gamble

Supply Chain Network Operations ( Logistics & Supply Chain) -2020 Graduate Role
“At P&G we want you to get your career off to a fast start. That’s why we don’t have a traditional Graduate program with rotations or gradual ramp-up periods. We hand you real responsibility from the moment you walk through the door. We believe it’s the best way to learn. From day one, you’ll help develop or support household name brands you know & trust while working in roles that have a direct impact on our global, US$65 billion-dollar business. You could be overseeing a brand with multimillion dollar sales, supporting the launch of a new product in to the market or work on strategic business priorities to enable us to WIN. There’s no limit to what you can achieve here.”

Closes: 29th March 2019, 11:59 pm
Location: North Ryde, NSW
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February

South32

Technology Graduate Program
“As graduate in our Technology team you get to explore different technologies to find solutions to complex problems within the business. You will learn to plan, convert and deliver technical problems into real-life business solutions that will help South32 to improve safety and productivity. You’ll be part a team that’s excited by new and upcoming technologies and welcoming of new and innovative ideas.


Closes: 31st March 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Perth and other operations in WA
Starting: Early February
More Information

RioTinto

Graduate Opportunities 2020 – Australia
“Graduate careers rarely impact everyday life. But at Rio Tinto, your innovation will deliver the building blocks humankind relies on. Like the aluminium in our cars. The iron in our buildings. And the salt that seasons our meals. This is complex work that calls for natural leadership and the ability to quickly develop new skills. Work that thrives from creative thinking and demands astute environmental stewardship. Work that ultimately shapes society and drives human progress”

Closes: 31st March 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Perth and other operations in WA and Brisbane, QLD
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February

Assessment centres in Perth and Brisbane will take place during the week commencing 20th May 2019.

REA

Data Science and Analytics Graduate
“REA Group is one of the world’s largest property and lifestyle media companies. Best known in Australia for realestate.com.au, the market-leading property site and app, we’re also a fast-growing global business spanning three regions. Our Data Science and Analytics program will immerse you in the full cycle of how we use technology to become more responsive to our customer needs. You will gain exposure to identifying and converting raw data into highly scalable data sets. Alongside how we conduct modelling & profiling analysis to develop appropriate models to predict the behaviour, usage patterns and trends of our consumers.”

Closes: 1st April 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Melbourne
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February
Length: 24 months.

carsales.com

2020 Graduate Program – Technology
“Not only are we the largest online automotive, motorcycle and marine classifieds business in Australia, we’re growing across Latin America and Asia. You’ll have the chance to create an impact in roles and projects that really matter to our business. We’ll surround you with a support crew of motivated, creative people who will help you grow your career. You’ll be learning our tech stack, the languages that we code in and how to work in an agile environment. We have a lot of what we like to call “tribes” and each one is working on a different element of the business. As you work through your rotations you’ll apply your skills to the design, development, and implementation of new complex tech systems that each of these teams are working on.”

Closes: 5th April 2019, 5:00pm
Location: Melbourne
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February
Length: 18 months
More Information

City West Water

City West Water 2020 Graduate Program
“City West Water is excited to announce the launch of its 2020 Graduate Program. Be part of a dynamic and customer focused business that puts the customer first and benefits the community. A role with us will see you join 450 people including engineers, planners, Information Technology and various environmental experts working across our sites in the western suburbs of Melbourne.”

Closes: 7th April 2019, 11:59pm
Location: Melbourne
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February
More Information.

Digital Alchemy

Graduate Program
“Digital Alchemy (DA) is Asia Pacific’s leading data-driven marketing services provider that helps companies all around the region achieve their marketing goals by implementing world class solutions to optimise the use of customer data. Digital Alchemy services Australia’s largest companies across all industry sectors including financial services, telecommunications, retail, media and other industry sectors. Our headquarters are in the heart of Sydney, with offices in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and Melbourne with over 300 employees.”

Closes: Open now
Location: Sydney
Internationals: Yes
Starting: Early February
More Information.

Atlassian

2020 Graduate Analytics Associate
We are blazing new trails to enable meaningful growth decisions, so we’re constantly growing, learning, and trying to do things differently. We’re data unicorns that distill complex analytical terminology and concepts into concise language, and we interface directly with Product leaders to transmit that knowledge effectively. We’ve been described as fearless, but thorough, because we’re dedicated to an agile methodology that enables moving fast while still ensuring high-quality output. We also know all too well the importance of validating assumptions in our data, and we use various types of testing to prove those assumptions right (or wrong).”

What you’ll be working on:

  • Developing quantitative models of user behaviour and product performance.
  • Communicating the modelling, analysis and results via writing and visualisations.
  • Identifying areas for further investigation and creating innovative analysis methods.

Closes: Open now
Location: Sydney
Internationals: Not explicitly stated – though appears so
Starting: Late January
More Information.

  • AstraZeneca
  • Carlton & United Breweries
  • EML
  • FDM Group
  • Grand Metal
  • IRESS
  • Annalect
  • SAS
  • Schneider Electric
  • Tibra Capital
  • Strategy&
  • LEK
  • TAL
  • SIG
  • WPP Consulting
  • ThoughtWorks

Wrangling your data means getting your hands dirty

This is a quick post about why you need to adopt a mindset of iterative and interactive data wrangling.

Iterative data wrangling is the idea that you use your analysis output as a source of information to ‘redo’ you wrangling. Interactive data wrangling is the idea that you manually intervene in the process.

Some schools have the idea that data mining and cleaning should be as automated as possible. A lot of software has been purpose built for this process in the last couple of years. Because the DS community is quite friendly there are a few free software among the proprietary software like the exxy Alteryx and Trifacta.

These include Googles Openrefine and Quadrient DataCleaner.

The problem with data wrangling software is that it misses things. Things you don’t even know were there until they mess up your output. If you aren’t aware of what your data looks then you will have a hard time fixing issues or even diagnosing them. Often the conclusion is ‘ oh I better add some gradient boosting, my F1-score is a little low’. Alternatively, just clean your data better.

The other problem with automatic wrangling software is that the schema is defined for you. This means that you may end up over cleaning your data and therefore overfitting your models.

Iterative data wrangling is a skill though. The more iterations you do, the more likely it is that you are cleaning up your own mess after you spot what you have done to your data on output. Kind of like how you only see the stains on your favourite top after you ironed it and put it on. Shoulda spot cleaned.

For those new to the field, it is a process of failing. The more times you do dumb things, the more you learn and don’t do them again.

I’ll give you an example.

I have a set of tweets that use ‘coz’, ’cause’ and ‘cuz’ instead of ‘because’.

I thought that these words needed to be normalised, I could have probably just thrown these away but I was trying to be overly thorough. So I wrote a script to do this.

I didn’t check my output to often and only really looked at the top 50 words for each of the topics in the output. Later when I was visualising things I saw this:

Jabecausezi bebecause becausey

I realised that because I had manually altered these terms before I had tokenized (and, therefore, created a list, not a string to alter) I had inserted these words into ‘because’ rather than replace those words with ‘because’. I never picked it up because these words were made rare-ish. Not infrequent enough to be removed, but not frequent enough to turn up in the top 50 words for each topic.

Rare-ish is not a real word btw.

A silly example sure, but just one of many dumb mistakes i have made and never repeated. It actually took me a few weeks to pick up on this and it is the perfect example why you need to iteratively and interactively clean your data. My coherence scores (I was topic modelling at the time) jumped right up and even though I don’t really pay much attention to them now (because I review my topics qualitatively), my metric-happy collaborators got a lot more relaxed about the results.

Even Mark Wahlberg recommends it.

Marky is a neat freak

As always retweet this post @data_little for happy cleaning vibes.

Photo by averie woodard.Thanks Averie for the use of your work at Unsplash.

Are you in or out? Deadline draws closer for your My Health Record creation

The Australian Government’s new $2 billion AU health record information system, My Health Record is set to improve how medical practitioners to access, share and create information about your medical history. The initiative aims to improve the flow of accurate and timely information to GPs and other specialists in order to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

Here’s Dr Caroline Yates providing is a great summary of why medical practitioners will be able to improve their quality of care if their patients are using My Health Record.

My Health Record is a fantastic initiative and could change the meaning of continuity of Care in Australia, at least in theory.
But I, like many people, have some significant concerns over privacy, security and data access. And, as a data scientist, I’m concerned about data use, accuracy, integrity and completeness.

If you haven’t decided whether to opt out, you only have a few days from today. So let’s unpack the ins and outs of My Health Record before you make your mind up.

What are the benefits of having a My Health Record?

The official My Health Record website states that the benefits of creating a record are as follows.

Better Connected Care

Do you see one doctor all the time?

I don’t.

When I’m sick, with say a chest infection I can’t shake, I don’t care who I see at my local practice as long as it is ASAP. I know that doctors who work within that practice can access my previous doctor’s notes as long as my regular doctor entered them on the practice system.

My Health Record is said to be helpful to patients as it reduces their life admin including transferring medical records when they move. I’ve moved six times in 6 years and had to transfer practices a few times. It’s a simple process. I call my old GP and ask for my medical records to be released to my new GP, that’s it! My medical record follows me. But some people don’t do this, and that’s where the My Health Record would benefit them, as doctors at all practices will be able to see their medical history.

Where it may be of benefit is if I’m travelling interstate and I can’t see my regular GP. I mean, who transfers their records for a random one-off visit?

But the scenario where this would have the most impact is in the event of a life-threatening emergency. If you are unconscious, you can’t tell the doctors trying to help you what you think is wrong. Another instance My Health Record would have a critical impact in this scenario is to prevent catastrophic drug reactions.

I went into anaphylactic shock and then my blood pressure bottomed out because they didn’t know I was on beta blockers. If they had known they would have given me other drugs as well to stop that.

– Patient who had an adverse reaction when given treatment

This is where My Health Record is helpful for adults in general. But there are specific groups of people where My Health Record will be even more beneficial.

Parents

minutes is difficult for parents, I can’t even do it for my health history in that time, let alone for a sick child. My Health Record is aimed at providing a holistic picture of a child’s health for this reason. Many a diagnosis has been delayed or missed due to incomplete childhood records, and My Health Record could prevent this. The autonomy of the child has also been taken into consideration. I’m quite impressed by this and children will be able to take control of their record after the age of 14.

Older Australians

The older you get, the denser your medical record becomes. As we age, our bodies are more susceptible to acute infections and chronic disease. For older Australians, My Health Record affords connected care while easing the burden of remembering all of these details. In cases where the individual is suffering cognitive decline, most likely in older age, this system will be beneficial to them and their health care practitioners.

New Australians

Non-English or non-fluent individuals may use My Health Record to overcome the issues stemming from the language barrier that could significantly impair their quality of care. This is all well and good, but I question the integrity of the data in instances where there may be information that is lost in translation but still entered. Additionally, I want to know how this information is made accessible to these patients online. Is it translated into their language?

People with Chronic disease

Up to 21% of drug-related hospital admissions are due to drug interactions in Australia. That’s pretty high. I have a family member with a fairly serious set of chronic diseases. They are meticulous with the information they give to their doctors and keep great track of the large volume of medications they have to take. But for them, their history and medications being accessible to all specialists would have saved them the pain of having to deal with the fallout from drug interactions as they have had various specialists prescribed counter-indicated drugs at the same time.

Can I control my own My Health Record?

Yep, you control your record. This means that you can choose what to delete and who can see your information. If you don’t want a doctor seeing this, you can change your access settings, but that still makes for an awkward conversion in an appointment. You can check who has accessed your record and even get automated notifications via email or SMS. Be aware that in an emergency your access controls may be overridden to you know, save your life. This is the interface you would see if you were tailoring your My Health Record to your preferred level of access control.

Setting up a My Health Record through MyGov

Is it secure?

Depends on who you ask. The system is said to have:

A multi-layered and strong safeguards in place to protect your information including encryption, firewalls, secure login, authentication mechanisms and audit logging.

– My Health Record website

I’m beyond sceptical of this statement.

In 2018 there were 35 breaches of the My Health Record system, which rose to 42 violations in 2018. The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) said that none of these was malicious….ah?

The ADHA insists that these breachers were the result of situations such as the wrong parent having access to a child’s record when they do not have custody of the child and fraud against the Medicare system through individuals accessing records which are not theirs. I’m pretty sure these could be seen as malicious. Most concerningly the majority of breachers were where the Department of Human Services used the same record as Medicare which is a data integrity issue. In summary, there are system integrity and access control problems to overcome.

ADHA may say that My Health Record is secure, but this doesn’t mean all integrated systems are. The healthcare sector in Australia has a pretty shocking history of poor record management. For example, Family Planning NSW, a service that offers reproductive and sexual health services was hacked in April 2018. Up to 8,000 records were held captive under ransomware, and the agency only became aware of this after clients contacted them and journalist Lauren Ingram notified people via twitter.

Would you want your last STD check made publically available?

Lauren Ingram’s Twitter post

Given the sensitivity of this data, I’m not sure I would be forgiving of such a scenario.

Who can access my health Record?

People who can access your record include

  • GPs
  • pharmacies
  • pathology laboratories
  • hospitals
  • specialists
  • allied professionals
  • secondary providers

That’s not vague at all.

At this point, your brain should be blaring, Danger, Danger! Abort, abort!

Not all employees are as ethical as they should be. Even though there are safeguards which flag when a hospital employee accesses a family record or a specific record too frequently, people can easily override this, and they do. One way this happens is because departments don’t adopt their EMR software or lack training in how to use it, making circumnavigating the system much more attractive.

I have seen thousands of records be transferred into excel spreadsheets and become accessible by all in a department. This meant that to get to one record, the practitioners would scroll through the thousands of others and be able to read that sensitive information with no safeguards in place. The one password to the file, located on a shared drive wasn’t changed in 2 years. In small country towns, this becomes problematic as you learn information about your neighbours or even colleagues, that they would have never divulged to you. Friday night at the pub just became 100% more interesting (or awkward depending on how you see it).

Insurance agencies and employers are legally not allowed to access information on your My Health Record. One reason that the last deadline was extended was to allow for this legislation to pass through the Australian Parliament under the My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018. Unauthorised civic access may result in a fine of $315,000, criminal conviction and up to 5 years jail time. Big woop, people do it all the time. Again, a systems issue.

This legislation also prevents privatisation of the My Health Record system. In saying that there seem to be some fair dodgy dealings going on that indicate some commercial conflicts of interest.

Law enforcement and government agencies access are a little less clear with the official My Health Record website stating

To date, the Agency’s official operating policy has been that no information within My Health Record can be released without an order from a judicial officer. The Agency has never received such a request and has never released information. Under new laws, no information can be released to  law enforcement or a government agency without your consent or an order from a judicial officer

– My Health Record

So I guess law enforcement can access your record.

The My Health Record website states that researchers are currently unable to access this data, but policies and frameworks are being drawn up to oversee this. It is likely that data will be used for public research after de-identification as early as 2020. However, media reports state that secondary use for research “and other purposes” is going ahead as well.

My Health Record information can be used for research and public health purposes in either a de-identified form, or in an identified form if the use is expressly consented to by the consumer

Department of Health spokesperson

The most concerning aspect of this is the “other purposes” part. This is actually a code for organisations such as pharmaceutical agencies. You need to make your mind up about how you feel about that. And no, this is not a conspiracy theory. Think about the 2017 Melbourne Datathon where 3 million rows of Pharmaceutical sales via banner pharmacies was given to participants. There is nothing wrong with this but in reality, you could do a lot of damage with this if you really wanted to.

Why did they delay the deadline?

The opt-out period, where you can choose not to have a record generated, was initially set to end in November 2018 but Federal Health minister Greg Hunt postponed this deadline until the 31st of January 2019 among concerns about Data Privacy and Security. Minister Hunt sought to reassure the public that all was well with the system and that even if they missed the deadline, they could still opt-out at any point. What Minister Hunt neglects to mention here is that a record would be created for you after the 31st of January, although you can permanently delete this at any time.

The decision came after legislation strengthening privacy protections for the electronic health record system was amended in the Senate to include the extension.

SBS News

There have also been rumblings that a ‘small’ technical glitch from 2016 that has not yet been fixed. This bug could leave patients information inaccessible or out of date. If it’s still around, and I’m not saying it is, then it needs fixing.

Then there’s that ‘small’ matter of two total system crashes in November 2018. The media attention prompted people to try and opt out on the deadline in November 2018, and the unprecedented surge in website traffic crashed the system. Given the Federal Government’s failure to load test this and other previous initiatives, shout out to #CensusFail, it is likely we’ll see this issue again on the 31st of January. I don’t think #MyRecordFail has the same ring to it through.

Get in early to avoid this

Is my information accurate?

This is probably my biggest issue with the My Health Record system. It’s not the system itself but the users. The sad reality is that some doctors are just bad at their job. Because of this, the accuracy of the information could be quite low. If another doctor is using it, then there could be severe implications for a patients health. Fortunately, the Australian Medical Association is treating My Health Record with a healthy dose “professional scepticism” stating that doctors would likely be handling the records the same way as hospital discharge notes, by planning for a 10% margin of error. Because that’s not concerning at all.

How do I opt out?

If you want to opt out, you need to visit the My Health Record page. It’s actually a pretty easy process. You’ll need your Medicare card and drivers licence (or passport). Here is a helpful video to guide you through.

Trials of nationally accessible EMRs began in 2015 when the system was called the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR), and the eHealth record. Unfortunately, Australians didn’t respond well to this and location-specific trials recommenced in October 2016 with the system being renamed My Health Record. A little under 1 million Aussies registered in the opt-out participation trials. So if you lived in the Nepean region of the NSW Blue Mountains or Northern Queensland be aware that you may already have a My Health Record.

Hopefully, you have a little more understanding of some of the ins and outs of the My Health Record. I have opted out, but that may not be the best choice for you. Seek out further reading and make your mind up for yourself. You have two days.

Subscribe to LDS for more data related joy. Retweet us on Twitter and tag @data_little for happy recordkeeping times. Yes, recordkeeping is one word.

As always LDS cannot absolutely guarantee the correctness of this information and you should seek out further details through the many links in this article to the official My Health Record website.

What happens when you can’t pay for your degree

Have you thought about how you are going to pay for your degree? You can just put it on HECS-HELP, right?

You would be forgiven for thinking this. I did. That is until I got an email saying I had a $96,000 HELP debt. I had reached the maximum that the government would loan me and I had seven units left to go, nearly a full year.

You might be reading this and think ‘ oh that’s not me, I don’t have that much’ but you would be surprised. Be honest, do you know what you owe? Right now? To the dollar? Yeah, didn’t think so.

FYI, the maximum limit in 2019 is $104,440. It seems like a lot, but let’s look at an average student from Australia, interested in pursuing a post-graduate degree in Data Science or IT. This table is fairly representative of the current fees. International students (except for Kiwis #fam) can’t access HECS-HELP, all the more reason to read this article.

DegreeDomestic FullDomestic CSPInternational
Ba Comp. Sci $97,500 $28,077 $124,200
Ba. Comp Sci (hons)$130,000 $37,436 $165,600
Ma. DataSci$65,000 N/A$82,800
Ma. IT$65,000 N/A$82,800

For a domestic student who has Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) in their undergraduate degree and then goes on to do either a Masters of IT or Data Science will be indebted to the government for $93,077.

Have you thought about that? That’s a house deposit in Melbourne (sorry Sydney folks, keep saving). And if you do honours then that jumps up to $102,436. International fees are even scarier, $206,700 and $248,400 if you do honours.

So how did I hit that threshold? Two bachelors with honours and 1.5 years in law school. There was a small twist in my story, more on that later.

It’s frustrating because students are told they can ‘figure their pathway out at uni’, swapping between courses, but they can’t afford to do it this.

– Student fees officer at a Go8 University

Now don’t stress too much just yet. I’m going to take you through things you MUST be aware of if you are going after a post-graduate degree.

Find out how much you owe so far

You can check where you stand here at the UniAssist website. You will need your CHESSN. You CHESSN is your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number’, these are found on the top of your CAN (Commonwealth assistance Notice). CANs are distributed after the census date each teaching period. I’ll cover census dates shortly.

Check that no mistakes have been made

If I had done this, it would have saved so many moments of panic, frustration and one broken coffee mug I may have thrown in anger; at the floor, not anyone in particular. Side note, if smashing crockery seems like reasonable anger management strategy, I recommend the Smash Room in Melbourne, where you can literally smash plates.

In early 2016 I got sick and was in the hospital for a month so couldn’t complete my semester. Because this happened after the census date, I had already been charged. Now when you are sick in the hospital the last thing on your mind is your accumulated HELP debt, so I didn’t pick up on it until the following semester.

Accumulated HELP debt — The total of any HECS-HELP, OS-HELP, FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP/VET Student Loans or SA-HELP debts you have incurred (including any Australian Government study loans incurred before 2005).

Fortunately, I could apply for a retrospective withdrawal and after much running around, I got an email saying it had been approved. Case closed I thought.

Rookie error. The University may have approved it, but didn’t mean the Government did.

Six months later, when I got that lovely letter saying I had run out of money, I realised that $14,800 I was still charged for that semester I couldn’t.

I had to contacted the Department of Education AND the Australian Taxation Office and after several genuinely pleasent discussions with various officers, I finally got a retraction. Shout out to the ATO becauase they were super across this.

While I was still pushing for the retraction the census date was looming for my next semester and I didn’t have the funds. This is what happened:

  • I nearly pulled out of my Masters and took the alternative exit option to get a Graduate Diploma in Data Science.
  • I hustled for a scholarship that apparently didn’t exist.
  • I begged, yeah, I begged hard.
  • My collection of plates faced some collateral damage.
  • I got a road-worthy ($120) to sell my car and pay upfront.

Fortunately, I was granted credit for my former research roles. It turns out my honours thesis was good for something after all.

How to prevent this happening to you

The following is s set of ahh….provocations for you to hopefully, avoid this senario and achieve your qualification without having to pay more than you expected.

Are you eligible for any credits (not exclusions)?

Credits mean you don’t have to do or be charged for a unit. These are usually given if you have done an equivalent unit at the same level e.g. post-graduate, or for appropriate work experience which you need to prove.

Credits saved me but you must speak with your university if they are the most appropriate option.

Can you take the path of least resistance?

Think about your strengths, is writing your forte, take more writing intensive units. Do you do poorly in exams relative to in semester assessments? Take units with no exams. Are you kind poor in the math department? Don’t take as many mathy units, ok that kind hurts me to write, but it’s true.

In the degree I teach we have two streams, one is quite rigid and has some heavy technical units. I see so many students pursuing this stream and failing unit after unit, racking up more and more debt. All because of they envision some sort of prestige attached to that stream

It’s not a minor. It doesn’t even go on your degree, no one will ever know you did that.

– Me, literally every semester when I have a failing student crying in my office

If you want to have a career in academia, you need to get a thesis under your belt, if not usually a capstone. A thesis usually has a hurdle which means that you need to get a certain WAM or do certain units. You really can’t afford to fail a unit. Take the easy route.

My course directors advice to me during this time, still sticks with me, a sign of my slowly developing the Machiavellian tendencies, a necessary requirement to succeed in academia (aledgidly).

Play the game.

– Jaded academic

Understand what Census dates mean

How many times have you seen that email or notification about census dates…..and promptly archived or deleted it? Stop doing that. Read them, for the love of god read them.

Census date — This date is set by providers and it is the legal deadline for various requirements, like making an upfront payment of your student contributions, applying for a HECS-HELP loan or formally withdrawing your enrolment so you do not incur a HELP debt.

Sometimes students enrol in units incorrectly or spend two weeks in them before deciding to bail. You have a period of time each semester before you get charged for a unit, so you must do this before the census date. This also goes for credit applications. See your faculty administrators to do this.

For CSP students (mainly undergraduates), you must submit enrolments and re-enrolments forms declaring yourself as a CSP student prior to the census date. If you don’t you are going to go from a $4,679 semester to a $16,250. That’s the price of a brand new small car.

For all Australian students, make sure you have a Tax File Number (TFN) well before your first semester. You will need this to apply for HECS-HELP. Apply for one here.

Remember each university, and sometimes even faculties with the university, have different census dates. You need to get across them early.

Can you afford to pay some upfront costs?

If you have run out of available funding can you afford to pay some of your units up front? Looking at all of your options early in your degree or even before, may allow you to save for a year or so until you exceed any remaining cap. If you are close to the cap but look like you can finish the degree, save for a unit anyway just in case you fail.

Try to get a Scholarship

If you have a good WAM (80%+) you may be offered a scholarship or partial scholarship for your course. For most universities this is the WAM of your last degree, not your current WAM. You will need to check with your university about these. There are often equity scholarships available for students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well. But for the rest of us, there is sweet FA.

Consider a loan

I don’t recommend this option, but if needs be. Personal loans for tuition fees and living costs are taken up by many students, but remember, you need to pay them back and that starts from the minute that money is deposited in your account. The interest rates can vary but they can be as high as 15% for unsecured loans. You should also think about how this will affect your future credit rating and quality of living (Mi goreng packet noodles are not a food group). Have a look at loan rates for tuition here. Applying for multiple loans is a one-way ticket to a Crappy credit score. Check your score here.

On the topic of loans, avoid payday loans. Actually avoid isn’t strong enough. Do NOT get a payday loan. Why? Because a 47% interest rate isn’t going to work out for you in the long run. Read the story of how a $600 loan turned into a financial nightmare.

Hopefully you have learned something helpful here. As always, please retweet our articles to share financial wisdom. 

Photo by Kevin McCutcheon on Unsplash Give some love to Kevin and check his work out.

All information given in this post should be considered as opinion only and not a reflection of any specific university. You should conduct further research and not regard this article as a comprehensive and full accurate article. Pretty much, I take no responsibility for what you do with the information gained from this article.

Data Science Podcasts we love

Ahhh Podcasts, the ear joy we love to listen to.

If you are anything like us, your AirPods will be permanently implanted in your ear, and your significant other will regularly get told ‘hold on, I just need to pause this podcast’ when they try and speak to you.

Whether you enjoy fiction, current affairs, comedy or learning about new skills, there is a podcast for almost everything. So we at the LDS thought we would share our most beloved Data Science podcasts with you.

Partially Derivative – USA

Sadly ending in 2017, Partially Derivative was a standout favourite of ours Each episode the three hosts, Jonathon, Vidya and Chris get together and talk about everything from the latest trends and innovations, failures and launches, social impact issues and hilarious examples of applications such as the ANN generated 8th Harry Potter book. Check out all 103 episodes here or on whatever platform you use.

Data Science Ethics – USA

Fricken love this podcast. Mainly because there is such a big call for people in the fields to start addressing these issues. These ladies explain ethical concepts we encounter every day with examples like Blockchain, Morality in Machines, NLP and Googles AI generated assistant. Head over to their site for all the episodes here.

Data Futurology – Australia

A relative newcomer hosted by Felipe Flores, a Data Scientist and self-described Data Futurologist. Felipe’s podcast is a winner when it comes to industry based Data Science, he interviews a variety of industry leaders in Australia and internationally. If you want to understand how Data Science is being employed in industry head here to listen.

Linear Digression – USA

Ben and Katie talk about various Machine Learning and Data Science tools and get you up to speed on the State of the Art. They spend 15 minutes or so to explain these tools and how the word in a way that isn’t basic, but it isn’t so difficult that you feel stupid (there is a lot of podcasts that over explain this way). Examples of topics include Word2Vec, Capsule Networks, Git for Data Science, Agile Data Science and Fractal Dimensions. Hear them gently explain everything here.

Data Skeptic – USA

A long-running podcast by Kyle Polich who covers everything from domain expert interviews, tutorials and advice. Kyle is a magnificent presenter and calls a spade a spade, he calls bullshit on a lot of the detritus floating about around Data Science. Episodes go between 15 to 60 minutes and cover technical concepts like NLP, time-series and gamification and are pretty much ‘Data Science easy listening ‘.

The O’Reilly Data Show – USA

A fairly technical podcast often reserved for long car trips or plane rides. Ben Lorica hosts the podcast, interviewing industry experts and getting into the nitty gritty of the latest trends in both academic and industry-based Data Science. Ben isn’t exactly the smoothest host, but you will definitely be well informed. Listen here.

Concerning AI – USA

Amazing discussions on the socio-technical implications (good and bad) that are emerging from the wonderful world of AI. They offer a debate/discussion style format where the two hosts Ted Sarvata and Brandon Sanders. Concerning AI is a bit of a trailblazer as it introduces the discussions of ‘existential risk’ of our craft in an assessable format. Have a listen here.

Data Stories – USA

This is a podcast with a focus on visualisation – super important. The hosts Enrico Bertini and Moritz Stefaner are experts in the field and interview guests from both industry and academia. They do an awesome job of allowing the people they interview to guide the story. This isn’t always the case in some podcasts. The narrative style makes for easy listening, particularly for those in academia. Head over here to listen.

Of course, there are many more, but these are the standouts that are pinned to our favourites list. If you aren’t a podcast listener we highly recommend this for passive learning. Our prefered platforms are Stitcher, Castbox and Podcast Player.

Now go get some ear joy!