Policy graduate careers


Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, November 2012

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade needs your talent, commitment and knowledge.

Do you want a unique career in the international arena?

A policy graduate position offers you the opportunity to employ your extensive academic and personal skills to develop and implement policy that advances Australia’s interests, both in Australia and overseas. The graduate program allows you to continue to develop and expand your knowledge in a broad range of areas - from international legal and security issues to international financial cooperation, trade negotiations and public affairs.

The opportunity

Working in a diverse and challenging environment, policy graduates are in the ultimate position to advance their careers as foreign and trade policy officers. Policy staff in the department take on varied functions including bilateral economic and political relations, bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, international security and public diplomacy. Policy graduates have the unique opportunity to work in one of Australia’s many diverse overseas posts.

Is this you?

If you answered yes to these questions, you could be the graduate we are looking for.

Are you the right graduate?

Our graduates are resourceful team players who have initiative, advanced communication abilities, and are flexible and open to change. If you have a broad range of experiences, have a keen interest in the work we do, and are ready to learn new skills and face exciting challenges, then you may be the right graduate for us.

We are interested in graduates from varied backgrounds. Previous graduates have had degrees in arts, asian studies, business, commerce, economics, international relations, language studies, law, science and medicine.

Successful applicants will have a strong record of academic achievement, work experience, extra-curricular achievements and community activities.

Professional training

Our graduates undertake a comprehensive two-year professional development program in Canberra, combining work placements with formal training modules and regional travel. Work placements are in a variety of areas including international economic and financial cooperation, international legal, security and strategic issues, trade negotiation and consular. The department provides intensive academic training to recruits with no previous exposure to areas such as international law and economics.

Work overseas

After completing the training program, graduates commence a placement in Canberra and are eligible to apply for overseas postings. Graduates overseas enjoy diverse and varied responsibilities. Typical roles for policy graduates include advocating the Government’s foreign, trade and environmental policies, negotiating bilateral trade agreements and working on UN or WTO committees.

Working overseas is one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of a DFAT employee's career. The graduate training program aims to prepare officers for work in the department, including overseas. Graduates have the opportunity to serve in a variety of interesting locations, including difficult and demanding ones.

Unbeatable variety

DFAT is a large organisation with a range of different work areas. Employees with broad skills or seeking diversity are encouraged to change roles and master new areas of work, creating work place variety and personal satisfaction.

“As a university student, I had a great time studying and working overseas. 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 all of those boxes”

Ed, Policy Graduate, 2010

Competitive salaries

The department’s employees enjoy highly competitive pay and conditions including:

Indigenous Australians

In support of the Government’s Closing the Gap: Indigenous Economic Partnership Agreement, the department is committed to increasing the recruitment of Indigenous Australians including through the use of the APS Special Measures provision.

People with disability

The department is committed to providing equal employment opportunities, access, equity and social inclusion for people with a disability.

Employee profile: Silai

Silai is an admitted lawyer with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws. She is currently completing her Master of Laws (International Law).

Here’s what Silai has to say about working in the department:

Working for DFAT is unrivalled by any other job in Australia. It allows you to represent Australia 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.

For me, the highlights of working at DFAT have included representing Australia at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (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.

A career with DFAT is challenging and rewarding with unparalleled opportunities to shape Government policy and represent your country through the international diplomatic network.

The recruitment process

Applications usually open in around February each year. Please visit the department’s website at www.dfat.gov.au/jobs/graduates to learn more about the graduate recruitment process and how to apply for the department’s graduate programs.

Corporate Graduate Program

The department also offers a unique program for graduates with accounting, commerce, ICT, human resource management or similar qualifications who are interested in pursuing a career managing the department’s corporate policies, programs and strategies, including overseas. For details on the Corporate Graduate Program, see our brochures or visit our website at www.dfat.gov.au/jobs/graduates.

Indigenous Graduates

The department encourages Indigenous Australians to apply for our graduate programs. We also recruit Indigenous graduates through the APSC’s Indigenous Pathways Program. Successful applicants join the department’s policy or corporate graduate programs.

Information on the Indigenous Graduate Program is available on our website at: www.dfat.gov.au/jobs, or from the APSC’s website at www.apsc.gov.au/indigenous.

Indigenous Cadetships

The department’s Indigenous Cadetship Program is a sponsorship program that provides Indigenous university students with financial assistance during their studies and practical work experience during their summer breaks.

Information on the Indigenous Cadetship Program is available at: www.dfat.gov.au/jobs/cadetship.

Need more information?

Visit our website: www.dfat.gov.au/jobs/graduates

Phone: (02) 6261 2736

Email: gradrec@dfat.gov.au