Graduate Trainee profile - Ed
Long-term Arabic language training in preparation for a posting to the Australian Embassy, Beirut.
Other positions in DFAT
In Canberra: Desk Officer positions in the PNG and Fiji Branch; FTA Legal Counsel Branch; and Executive, Planning and Evaluation Branch.
In Honiara: Assistant Policy Adviser, Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
What were you doing before joining DFAT?
I was living in Melbourne, working in the litigation department of a commercial law firm.
What qualifications do you have?
Undergraduate degrees in Arts (majoring in Indonesian studies) and Law.
Do you speak another language?
Yes, Indonesian and Solomon Islands Pijin.
Why did you apply to DFAT?
Having enjoyed studying and working overseas while I was a university student, I was keen to find a job that would allow me to work on meaningful international issues, to live in new and challenging places and to undertake further language study. DFAT ticked each of those boxes.
Do you have any tips for applicants on how to approach the application process?
Don’t underestimate the importance of the initial application – it’s at this stage that the largest number of applicants is culled. Friends you’re applying with will talk about completing their applications in fifteen minutes on the night before they’re due using a borrowed iPhone while backpacking across South America. Some of those people may be telling the truth, but my advice would be to take your time. Have the selection criteria firmly in mind when choosing examples and structuring answers. Have a first crack at the application a couple of weeks before it’s due and then come back to it with fresh eyes and fine-tune (again, referring to the selection criteria).
What has been the highlight of your career with DFAT so far?
The six months I spent on posting to Solomon Islands in the Office of the RAMSI Special Coordinator. The Special Coordinator is the senior Australian diplomat responsible for overall coordination of RAMSI’s activities and its relationship with the Solomon Islands government. My position involved participating in community outreach activities alongside police officers, development experts and public servants from Solomon Islands and across the Pacific; providing policy advice, mainly on law and justice issues; assisting with the preparation of reporting to the Pacific Islands Forum and the governments of participating countries; and administrative tasks like providing secretariat support to whole-of-mission coordination meetings and maintaining IT systems.
As a lawyer, why would you recommend DFAT over other career options?
Variety. The Department offers an opportunity to work on legal issues not often encountered in private practice, from WTO disputes to sanctions and transnational crime. Joining as a generalist (for example, through the graduate program) also provides the chance to work in non-legal areas on a broad range of political and trade issues.
How do you enjoy living in Canberra?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Canberra. The graduate program attracts a great mix of people and there is no shortage of things to get involved in – our graduate group was involved in everything from mixed netball and touch rugby competitions to the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. It's definitely a place that rewards making the effort to get involved.