Crunching the data on more meaningful work
Discover how Data Analytics students are helping nbn to provide more meaningful work for employees, while gaining valuable real-world experience for themselves.
At nbn, we value ongoing professional development and continuous learning, and encourage each other to find solutions in productive, competitive and innovative ways.
And it’s an approach not only reserved for employees – it’s also extended to those who spend time learning within our organisation.
Like those participating in nbn’s Data Analytics student placement program.
About the program
In partnership with North Link, nbn’s Data Analytics student placement program welcomes university students into the business for a paid part-time, fixed-term internship.
The program was established with the help of the North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub, which works with students to help businesses use data to their best advantage.
Together, nbn and the Hub have created work-integrated learning experiences within nbn data projects to get hands-on in solving real-world business challenges while creating potential career pathways for talented and capable students.
Mark Fisher, Principal Data Scientist in nbn’s Chief Data Office, proudly hosts each group of interns.
Meet Mark, Principal Data Scientist
A veteran at nbn, Mark has been with the business for more than a decade.
“Over my time at nbn, data science has become a more common profession,” says Mark.
“We're always looking for ways to keep growing that strength in data science.”
Just like for most businesses, data is an important tool at nbn.
“In rolling out and evolving our network, there are all kinds of business challenges that pop up and, when you're interacting with different customers and retail service providers and from one team to another, technicians… there's all kinds of data that ends up flowing back and forth.”
The Data Science team uses its expertise to translate this data, find solutions and solve problems, and is kept very busy.
“We have a finite number of data scientists and machine learning engineers, and we get a lot of demand. There's lots of things the business wants help with.”
And that’s where the Data Analytics students come in.
“The additional team members, the interns coming in, can really help us move things along. And that’s a great outcome.”
Welcoming the students
In 2022, three Data Analytics students from RMIT University participated in the inaugural program.
This year, another three talented students are currently helping nbn to progress an ongoing data project to reduce manual work by using breakthrough image recognition and object detection technology.
As part of commercial assurance activities, nbn receives tens of thousands of images from field delivery partners each week that need to be reviewed – when manually completed, this becomes time-consuming.
Using modern breakthrough image recognition and object detection opens up the possibility of training a machine learning model to read and assess the files quickly – without human assistance.
This will create more efficient processes and enhance career opportunities for employees.
“People who would otherwise be manually checking this type of data can then assess more complex data and complete more fulfilling work,” says Mark.
And for our second cohort of students from RMIT University – Vedika Patange, Fabian Caballero and Sean Richards, who are all in their final year of study – the project is providing them with valuable business experience.
“I was always fascinated with how data works," says Vedika Patange, an international student in her final semester of a Masters of Analytics.
“Over the years, gradually I understood the use of data, data prediction and the importance of it in all the fields.”
After Vedika looked at the nbn student placement program description provided by RMIT, she got excited and knew she wanted to apply.
“I’ve had a really good experience being an intern at nbn. Everyone at nbn, my team members, manager and the project team members, have all been so helpful and supportive. This has helped me develop and increased my confidence.”
Once Vedika graduates in June 2023, she’ll be looking for a full-time role as a Data Scientist, Data Analyst or perhaps a Business Analyst.
And her advice to future students?
“Keep learning and be open to new things. People at nbn are helpful, and they’ll help you learn and grow along with the process.”
Hailing from Colombia and living in Melbourne since 2019, Fabian Caballero is in his final year of a Masters of Analytics at RMIT.
Always interested in how data can provide solutions and answers to certain questions, an important reason Fabian applied for nbn’s internship is that it’s a paid opportunity.
“A reward for the effort and work. Even though it is a small role, it's still nice to get some benefits from this experience.”
Along with fellow interns Vedika and Sean, Fabian helped to collect data for objects to be identified in images.
Thanks to their help, nbn now has the data needed to continue onto the project's next steps – and Fabian is very happy knowing he played a key role in this.
“I would recommend this placement to other students. It's a great experience to work in an established company with the data science team.
“I'm very grateful to Mark and the team at nbn. They are always answering our questions and making a conscious effort to come in to be in the office when we are. We have truly felt a part of the team.”
Fabian offered some advice to future students: “Be proud of what you're doing and be proud of what you're studying because someone will see it later or soon. Be confident in what you've learned.”
“I like machine learning and subjects in that area are probably some of the most interesting subjects I've done,” says Sean Richards, who is studying a bachelor’s degree in Analytics, along with the Honours program.
After enjoying Physics in high school, Sean began an Engineering degree before realising he had a passion for maths. This saw him choose a pathway into analytics, which further developed into the machine learning data science field.
This made nbn’s image recognition project a great fit.
With Sean’s career aspiration to be involved in data science and machine learning, the project means he now has knowledge of the field and how businesses operate.
“Along with a feel for how nbn works, I’ve made some valuable connections. This placement has given me a realistic understanding and has been confirmation that I’ll enjoy this as a career.”
When he completes his degree, Sean plans to apply for nbn’s Graduate Program, an 18-month tailored, rotation-based program.
With Vedika, Fabian and Sean soon to wrap up their placements at nbn, Mark reflects on the mutual benefits of the program.
“It’s been very good – the students coming in and applying their fresh thinking and industrialism to the problem, getting that opportunity to develop their skills.
“And as well as benefiting from their contributions to our project, we also get to find out more about the talent ‘out there’.
“Together, we can enable better and better things for everyone.”