Connecting Community to Council boosts career confidence

Hamilton City Council’s new Communication & Engagement Advisor Paris Miller says the role has given her more confidence to speak to others and to share her creativity.

Paris, a former Hamilton Girls’ High student, landed the role while studying towards her Bachelor of Communication and is enjoying a boost in confidence, which has help her engage with diverse members of the community.

“I have definitely grown way more confident since I’ve been here. When I think back a year ago I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this but now I can talk to strangers in the community. I never would have done that before!

I’ve learnt how to write media releases, how to do social media posts and also how to liaise with people outside our organisation such as designers, photographers, media people and advertising people.”

Paris’ role is to develop and implement communication strategies that help to connect the Hamilton Kirikiriroa community with Council. She focuses on developing communications for Community facilities and spaces like parks and playgrounds.

FutureForce® caught up with her to find out more…

Paris Miller

Communication & Engagement Advisor

Top Career Tip

“Do what makes you passionate and do what makes you excited!”

A Chat with Paris about her role

Paris Miller, Ngāti Wai
Former Hamilton Girls’ High School Student

What do you do in your role?

I’m a Communications Advisor for the community space which is all about parks and playgrounds and our other community facilities. What I do is I help get communications out around projects happening in those spaces. So, if there is a playground renewal happening I will engage with the community and ask for their feedback about what they want to see at their playgrounds. It’s kind of like connecting the council with the community, getting the messages across and making sure everyone knows what’s going on.

How did you get this job?

I saw it advertised on Seek and I applied. I was a little under experienced because I had not actually finished University when I applied but I thought to myself I’m just going to give it a go anyway!

What have you learnt on the job?

This is my first full-time job and I’ve learnt how to work in a team and how to manage work relationships. The only other times I’ve worked in a team was at university doing group projects which is a lot harder but it teaches you how to deal with working in a group.

I’ve learnt how to write media releases, how to do social media posts and also how to liaise with people outside our organisation such as designers, photographers, media people and advertising people. I have definitely grown way more confident since I’ve been here. When I think back a year ago I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this but now I can talk to strangers in the community. I never would have done that before!

What do you like most about working at Hamilton City Council?

I like how there are a lot of other young people starting out their career here. I’m in a group with other recent graduates, so we meet up once a month and it’s been good to bond over starting a career. I also really like the support I’ve been given from my people leaders/managers when I first started my job. Since it was my first full-time job they’ve coached me on how a big organisation works and what I need to do, so the support has been really good.

Was there anything you wish you knew when you left school?

I wish I had learnt how to back myself and how to be more confident, because I would never want to speak up and share my thoughts and opinions but now that I have started here I would share my ideas more. Even if it’s not a good idea, it’s just the fact that I’ve got it out there and someone may like it.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

My main challenge is learning how to push back on things when we can’t deliver. Learning how to say no I guess. I’m not a very confrontational person but if the outcome is impossible sometimes you have to be honest and do it in a way it doesn’t upset anyone.

Where would you like to go with your career?

I think just progressing as a Communcation Advisor, but I might like to try another business unit in Council such as the Growth or Infrastructure space. It might be cool to try another portfolio. Also getting more responisibility maybe in a manager role in the future, but still in the comms space.

Did you know?

About 1200 Hamilton City Council staff work across 29 business units from 20 different sites and are responsible for keeping our great city running now and helping it to thrive in the future.

Find out more about the dozens of different Council roles here.

Top Tips & Advice

What are some useful school subjects for this role?

At university I did a Te Reo first year paper which I found very helpful! I always find that I want to incorporate Te Reo into comms. Communication papers are a requirement and they are very helpful! I also did  lots of marketing papers which I’ve drawn from as well. English is also very good for comms because it involves a lot of writing.

What sort of person do you need to be for this job?

I think you need to be quite creative. Sometimes you do get quite boring projects, and it’s your job to make them “cool”. So you need that sort of creative side to you. I think you have to be quite good at time management and organisation because there is deadline pressure, and it’s important you know how to handle it. Being resilient is another important one, and everything else you can learn on the job!

What advice would you give to someone who’s deciding on their career?

Do what makes you passionate and do what makes you excited! Because at the end of the day even if you don’t know how to do it or you don’t think you’re good at it you can learn those things on the job.

What does someone need to know when starting out at work?

If you don’t feel ready you can learn almost everything you need to know on the job. Don’t be afraid to give it a go! Give yourself time, don’t feel you have to know everything going into a job, take the opportunities when you see them. I started as a Communications and Engagement Coordinator here and I would not have got this new job as an Advisor if I didn’t put myself forward. So if you just show interest, people will notice and they’ll support you to get where you need to be.

What advice do you have for keeping balance/managing stress?

I learnt this tactic where you can hold out your hands and in one hand there’s things you can control and in the other there’s things you can’t control. So only focus on things you can control and everything else will just fall into place. We’ve also learnt how to take micro-pauses if it ever gets too hard just get up and go for a walk, grab a hot drink or some water. Talk to co-workers about it, don’t let stress over take your work, just put it aside if you need to. I always find talking to my people leader is very helpful.

Becoming a Communication & Engagement Advisor

Those in Paris’ role need the following:

  • High level of motivation, initiative and proactive drive.
  • Ability to pick-up new tools and technology quickly.
  • An eye for branding and marketing and great attention to detail.
  • Creativity and passion about understanding and engaging with Council community.
  • Flexible and available to work some weekends
  • Tertiary qualification in a relevant field