Alumni Profile - Penny Deveson (2017, Camfield)

We love hearing about what our Alumni have been up to since leaving school, especially as they reflect on the journey of forging their own path.

Penny Deveson

What have you been up to since you left school?

I’ve graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Arts – Honours degree in political science and international relations. I wrote a 16,000-word dissertation that received a first class honours, titled “Fortunately, ASEAN came to the rescue: An analysis of ASEAN's ability to resolve conflict through its response to security concerns in Myanmar and the South China Sea”. I lived in the UK for six months while on exchange at the University of Bristol (the best UK university in my opinion). I worked for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in their primary industries trade area (never thought I would work in agriculture!). I am now working as a graduate at the WA Public Sector Commission. The Commission’s role is to strengthen the efficiency, effectiveness and capability of the public sector to meet existing and emerging needs; and deliver high quality services. Basically, we are about the performance and improvement of both individuals and agencies in the public sector.

Has this differed from where you thought you would be when you graduated?

I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do beyond go travelling when I graduated Year Twelve. I knew I wanted to study political science and one day work for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but the middle part was always unclear. I never thought I would do a graduate program in WA (I actually didn’t even know about any WA government graduate jobs until June last year). I never thought I would do honours but COVID-19 really put a spanner in my plans (I had always planned on moving to Canberra or the UK for further study/work) .

What has been a highlight and a lowlight in that time?

Highlight: My exchange to Bristol as I was able to travel to over 16 different countries and made so many wonderful friends. I had (maybe) a bit too much fun but I still enjoyed the Uni coursework (studying BREXIT while in the UK was on a whole other level)! I will always cherish my memories from Bristol and cannot wait to go back!

Lowlight: writing my dissertation as it was the longest and hardest essay I have ever written in my life, plus having to deal with all the COVID-19 lockdowns in between library writing sessions.

Who has been your greatest influence?

My mother has been my greatest influence. Her strength to always move forward and be positive in any situation is inspiring, as is her desire to challenge and educate herself. My other major influences are Julia Gillard, Jacinda Arden and Reni Eddo-Lodge, plus all the hundreds of authors and thinkers I’ve read as part of my degree (if you want to study political science don’t be put off by all the reading!)

Future plans?

Finish my graduate program and see what jobs are available. I would love to work for the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation in their trade department or in one of their overseas office. I would also still like to work for DFAT or the British civil service. Alternatively, I am also interested in political consulting and working on election campaigns. I still don’t know what I want to do in the future but I am excited for to see where my graduate program takes me and what skills I will learn in the process.

Any advice for our Year Twelves?

Learn to be flexible about your goals for the future, while you may be dead set on a certain career right now you never know the opportunities that may come up. Also, if you have no idea what you want to do, apply for a graduate program. The ability to do rotations around an agency is incredibly helpful in developing new skills and working out what area you would like to work in. Do as many internships as possible!

Have a look at Penny’s recent promotional video with the WA Public Sector Commission - https://youtu.be/7bJGQp4YzF8