Rebecca Kerley was an outstanding writer as a student at Mill Park Secondary College. She has used her writing skills and love of Politics to forge a career as an International Engagement Advisor for Australian Customs.

Name:Rebecca Kerley
Years at MPSC:2002-2007
Current career:International Engagement Adviser

What is your career and who do you work for?

I work in international engagement and policy management within the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS).

ACBPS serves the Australian community as the lead agency for Australia’s border protection and management. This involves working in a complex operational and policy environment to foster lawful trade and travel. As a portfolio agency within the Australian Public Service (APS), working with ACBPS also involves working closely with other Australian Government agencies.

What does your job involve?

As an Adviser in our International Engagement section, I assist in the management of ACBPS relationships with our international partners. The role also requires the provision of direct support to the Customs CEO and the senior executive on international matters, and in providing similar support to other Divisions/Branches, overseas posts, other Australian government agencies and other foreign organisations.

What does a typical day at work look like?

The day will normally be spent responding to tasks specific to the countries our team has responsibility for managing the relationship with. This might be work related to developing visit programs for visiting delegations to Australia, preparing briefings for our Executive, responding to requests for information from other Government departments, or developing policy documents which support our work with other agencies internationally.

What course or training did you have to do?

I completed a Bachelor of International Relations at La Trobe University, and a Master of International Development. Both courses enhanced my understanding of the modern world and allowed me to explore my specific interest areas more deeply.

As part of my Graduate Year within ACBPS, I was able to complete a year of formal training through the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and received a Diploma of Government.

How did Mill Park Secondary College help you get there?

I had a lot of very supportive teachers!

Having the broad range of elective subjects in senior years meant that I could tailor my pathway to my own goals. This is an important part of understanding what inspires you the most in your learning.

Most distinct memory of MPSC?

Year 12 Politics Camp to Canberra was definitely a highlight – and I had no idea then that I would end up working here now!

What tips do you have for students looking to get into your line of work?

Working for an agency or department in the APS offers a wide range of opportunities in different fields. For government work a university qualification is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for employment, and is a mandatory requirement for most graduate programs.

The related roles and work surrounding policy can be very broad, with multiple pathways into the field and in support of it. For this reason, I feel that you will be most successful (and satisfied) if you study something which you find genuinely interesting, you personally enjoy and you are able to commit to. This will allow you to build on the set of skills and experiences you will personally be able to bring to any role, and will further prepare you for any related work you do across your career.

Policy is also about people, responding to change, and showing an awareness of both short and long-term thinking. Gaining any experience through paid or volunteer work will also enhance your understanding of how to operate in a professional environment.