Career Insights: Graduate Programs in the Realm of International Affairs: What’s out there?


In this Career Insights piece we share a key list of graduate programs for those interested in a career in international affairs.


Graduate and entry-level programs are available across all sectors. They are used to recruit talented people to their workforces and offer professional experience in the sector. Graduate programs usually have competitive entry and applications open early in the year (often between February and April), so be sure to check for updates on key deadlines.


The Australian Public Service supports the Government in a wide range of areas, including policymaking, social services, defence and foreign affairs, economic management and domestic affairs. Most Australian Public Service roles for graduates are based in Canberra, ACT and help successful applicants move to the territory. There are also state and territory government public services that run graduate programs based in all major capital cities.


Many Australia Government departments and agencies across the public service have international mandates, including those featured below, but across the public service applicants can focus on policy, law, economics, technical, corporate and human resources. The public service has a role for a broad range of degrees.


In this article, we also feature some state and territory government graduate programs and private-sector opportunities that may have international engagement. This list is by no means exhaustive: graduate opportunities can arise from many places, and we have curated this list to be relevant to applicants interested in international affairs.


The Public Sector

Many Australian Government departments and agencies work internationally or have international components of their mandate. Those with explicit international mandates include:

  • Attorney-General’s Department -Deals with national and international legal, justice, security and emergency-related matters. Policy, legal practice, industrial relations legal and economics streams available.

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics - Australia’s national statistical agency providing trusted data and statistics on a range of domestic matters. Data and Information Communication Technology stream available.

  • Australian Federal Police - Enforces Commonwealth criminal law and contributes to countering complex trans-national, serious and organised crime impacting Australia’s national security and interests. Graduates accepted from a broad range of degrees.

  • Australian National Audit Office - Independent auditor and reporter of Australian Government activity committed to supporting accountability and transparency and improving public sector performance. Broad streams include evaluation and performance, financial and assurance audits, IT systems or data analytics, accounting.

  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation - Conducts research and development in nuclear science and technology. Graduate recruitment occurs every two years.

  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - Protects Australia from threats to national security, including in intelligence collection and analysis. Technologist and Intelligence streams available.

  • Australian Secret Intelligence Service - Gathers and produces intelligence to inform the government of threats to Australian security. Streams include corporate, technical and intelligence support.

  • Department of Defence (including the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation, Australian Signal Directorate, Defence Intelligence Organisation) - Protects and advances Australia’s strategic interests through promotion of security and stability, military capabilities and supporting the Australian community and civilians as directed by the Government. Policy, corporate, intelligence, technical and research pathways available.

  • Department of Education, Skills and Employment - Ensures Australians receive benefits that quality education, skills and employment can bring, from early childhood to international education programs. Generalist and specialist streams available.

  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Provides foreign, trade and development policy advice to the Government; coordinates Australia’s global, regional and bilateral interests; and operates Australian consular services. Policy stream available. For corporate and other streams, apply via the Australian Government Graduate Program (details below).

  • Department of Home Affairs - Manages a wide range of domestic policy including immigration and border protection, multicultural affairs, emergency management, transport security, transnational serious and organised crime, criminal justice policy, national security and counter-terrorism. Generalist stream available. For corporate and other streams, apply via the Australian Government Graduate Program (details below).

  • Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources - Shapes Australia’s future through promoting innovation, skills, learning and discovery and propels businesses and the economy. Generalist, STEM and professional services streams.

  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet - Provides high quality advice to support the Prime Minister as the First Minister of Government and Cabinet to achieve a coordinated and innovative whole of government implementation of Government policy. Generalist stream available.

  • The Treasury - The Government’s pre-eminent economic advisor delivering economic development and implementation of sound economic policy and advice. Generalist and economist streams available


Australian Government Graduate Program

2021 will be the first year many departments run a streamlined recruitment for generalist, data and human resources graduates through the Australian Government Graduate Program for a start date in 2022.


For further guidance on APS graduate programs and public service, the Australian Government Graduate Portal can guide you through the range of opportunities available and help you find your stream or other entry pathways.



State and Territory Government Programs

State and Territory Governments can also offer opportunities in international engagement. This includes functions such as diplomatic protocol and international visits, international engagement policy, multicultural affairs policy, and trade and investment policy:


The Private Sector

These are some examples of the opportunities in the private sector across consulting, industry and think tanks are available:

  • BHP - Resource commodity company. Technology, business, health science, engineering and science streams.

  • Boston Consulting Group - A global management consulting company.

  • Cardno - A global development, infrastructure and consulting company focussed on making a difference. Asia-Pacific Graduate Program.

  • Deloitte - A global management consulting and accounting company.

  • King & Wood Mallesons - Law firm with full spectrum of commercial, financial and specialist legal services. For law students and graduates.

  • Lockheed Martin - A global security and aerospace company engaged in the research, design and manufacture of advanced technologies, including but not limited to aeronautics, missiles, space systems, mission and command-and-control systems. Engineering, cyber intelligence and technology.

  • McKinsey & Company - A global management consulting company.

  • Nous Group - An international management consulting company in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

  • PwC - A global management consulting and accounting company.

  • Telstra - Australian telecommunications company building and operating networks and markets voice, mobile, internet, among other products and services. Software engineering, data and human resources streams

  • TetraTech / Coffey - A global development, engineering, geotechnical, environmental and project management firm.

Other opportunities

While this article lists just a few select international and public service graduate opportunities, there are a multitude of entry pathways and career trajectories for graduates and early career professionals. Many other opportunities exist across Australia’s capital cities for graduates in international relations, particularly in think tanks (Asialink, Asia Society Australia, Grattan Institute, Lowy Institute), and beyond. You can also check out the Graduate Australia Top 100 Employers list for further inspiration!


If one of these programs piques your interest, check out YAIA’s blog on What You Need to Know for Graduate Recruitment to the Public Service too for tips on preparing your graduate program applications.


#Careers #CareerInsights #graduatecareers #earlycareers