Silai - Graduate profile

Year joined


Current Position:

Desk Officer Indonesia Political and Strategic Section

Other positions in DFAT:

Desk Officer International Economy Section, Philippines Kidnapping Taskforce, Procurement and Contracts Governance Section, Budget Development Section, and Securency Taskforce.

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

I lived in Sydney and was working at a corporate law firm.

What qualifications do you have?

I am an admitted lawyer with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws. I am currently completing my Master of Laws (International Law).

How have you used your qualifications/experience during your time in DFAT?

DFAT is a very dynamic place to work and I have found that my qualifications and experience have served me well, but more importantly it has been the skills I have gained through university, travel, work and interests that have allowed me to adapt to the vastly different subject matters I have had to work on. It is amazing how you can have limited knowledge about certain subject matters, but when thrown in the deep end you find that analytical and research skills can bring you up to speed in no time!

Do you speak another language?

Yes, I speak Pushto, Dari, Farsi, Hindi and Urdu.

Why did you apply to DFAT?

I have a strong interest in international law/relations, economics and public governance so DFAT seemed like the perfect fit!

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

I found the written test quite challenging, but it is a good taste of time pressure situations that you may be faced with at DFAT.

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

Take it one stage at a time and make sure you prepare for each stage. Your written application is your first chance to impress so take your time in preparing your answers and choosing examples that highlight a variety of your experiences. For the written exam, this sounds basic, but make sure you do more research into the role of DFAT, Australia’s foreign and trade policy objectives, and how we try to achieve these objectives – the DFAT website is a great place to start. At the interview stage, be yourself and relax. If you get to this stage you are doing great so it would be a shame to let nerves ruin it for you!

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

The reality of DFAT has really superseded my perceptions. I think DFAT becomes a lot clearer once you are part of the department and I have definitely learnt that there is a lot more to it. Coming from the private sector, I have learnt a lot about how the department functions in the bureaucracy, and I have been given fantastic opportunities to learn, travel and meet new people.

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

There have been many highlights including representing Australia at the ADB Annual Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam and the TPP trade negotiations in Melbourne, afternoon tea with the Governor General, contributing to Australia’s successful UN Security Council bid, writing for and collating departmental publications, working on a high profile kidnapping case and litigation case, assisting Australians involved in the Japan tsunami and New Zealand earthquake, participating in various graduate training and development programs including planning and managing a regional travel trip to the Northern Territory with international participants. Most importantly however, DFAT has provided me with unique opportunities to meet and work with people from all over the world.

As a lawyer, why would you recommend DFAT over other career options?

A career with DFAT is unrivalled by any other job in Australia. It allows you to work as an economist, accountant or in my case a lawyer and provide policy advice and briefing material to the Government on an interesting range of subjects with the aim of shaping Australia’s response to global challenges. The dynamic nature of the department and graduate program allows you to experience rotations in a variety of sections before you get posted to an overseas mission or choose to settle down in a section. The work is challenging and rewarding with unparalleled opportunities to shape Government policy and represent your country through the international diplomatic network.

How do you enjoy living in Canberra?

It has been great so far! If you expect Canberra to be what you’re leaving behind then you will be disappointed, but if you come here with an open mind then you will enjoy meeting great new people and take advantage of all that Canberra has to offer!

Have you any other insights for potential applicants?

If you haven’t already, watch Hollowmen so you can laugh about it later!

Last Updated: 22 February 2013