Nate - Graduate profile

Year joined

2011

Current Position:

Deputy Director, Australian Office, Taipei (the Australian Office is Australia’s representation in Taiwan)

Other positions in DFAT:

Papua New Guinea Section, Counter Terrorism Branch

Where did you live and what were you doing before joining DFAT?

I lived in Papua New Guinea working for UNICEF

What qualifications do you have?

Bachelor of Arts (International Relations), Master of International Law, Master of Business Administration

Do you speak another language?

Chinese (Mandarin), Tok Pisin (PNG)

Why did you apply to DFAT?

I have always wanted to be a diplomat. The work of a diplomat always seemed so interesting and diverse. Oh, and the opportunity to live overseas.

What was the most challenging aspect of the recruitment/selection process?

The waiting. The wait between the written application, to the online test to the interview to the notification is definitely the hardest part. I actually enjoyed the online testing and confirmed that if the work was like this, then I was going to enjoy being a diplomat. The interview made me very nervous, as I felt that I had come so far, and really want to succeed. But it is still the waiting in between all these steps that is the most challenging.

Do you have any tips for applicants on how to approach the application process?

Take each step as it comes, but dream about the next step and what it would be like to work in foreign affairs. It can also help to read a lot – Economist, online foreign affairs articles and think tanks. Finally, have an informed opinion on foreign affairs and have a true interest in the work of the department.

Has the reality of working in DFAT differed from your perceptions of what it was going to be like?

I think it is almost impossible to know what working at DFAT is like until you start. I did not expect I would be drafting treaties and meeting foreign leaders in my first year! But in other ways DFAT is exactly what I thought – working on issues which have global significance.

What has been the highlight of your career with DFAT so far?

It is really hard to say there was one highlight – there have been so many. Having such a close group of friends in my fellow grads; spending two months with junior diplomats from around the world; travelling around the world as a diplomat; working with Ambassadors and having the opportunity to learn from them – are just some of the few highlights since I started.

How do you enjoy living in Canberra?

At first the idea of Canberra can seem daunting, but after moving down here I have realised it’s a great city. There is plenty to do and a great environment to live and work. As DFAT officers, if we cannot move to Canberra and find things to enjoy, how can we live anywhere in the world, so I think we always need to approach these things very pragmatically.

Have you any other insights for potential applicants?

The work at DFAT is challenging and interesting. You get to work with some of the best brains in Australia on foreign affairs, and be involved in negotiations which have global significance. But I think it is also important to think about the position seriously. There are aspects which can be frustrating, and pressures which can be hard to manage. But if you are flexible, pragmatic and prepared to accept that you have a lot to learn, then the grad program at DFAT will not be a job for a year, it can be a career for a lifetime. Wow, now I sound like a walking advertisement. But really, it's great.


Last Updated: 22 February 2013
Nate