Meet Ameel Beesony, who grew up in Mauritius and has been living and working in the land Down Under for almost 11 years. Ameel is also fluent in French, another native language of this beautiful mountainous Island just off the southeast coast of Africa.
As Mark Twain once wrote, ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius’, Ameel thinks there is good reason in that and often talks fondly about Mauritius’ stunning beaches and waters great for scuba diving and deep-sea fishing.
He now calls Australia his other home – and shares with Yen his advice on working and living as a lawyer in Australia.
Y: Tell us about what you do? What is your job like?
A: Sure! I am a Legal Counsel at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science with the Australian Commonwealth Government. The department aims to “enable growth and productivity for globally competitive industries” through various ways. Practically, the department provides access to valuable resources and information (e.g. through its business.gov.au portal), and administers programs to support science and commercialisation, growing business investment, streamlining regulations and building high-performance organisations.
As part of the department’s legal branch, I provide end-to-end legal advice to various clients comprising of the department’s portfolios. These generally relate to such areas of law as commercial, privacy, statutory interpretation, constitutional, and a little bit of everything else. For example, I provide advice on funding agreements and other commercial arrangements. I also participate in inter-agency working group to facilitate the development legal documents used throughout the Commonwealth Government.
Y: Wow, thanks for sharing! How are your working hours?
A: It’s great! The Commonwealth Government, and particularly my department, actively promotes its flexible working conditions. This includes “flex”, which lets employees have flexible working hours (e.g. starting or finishing earlier or later, and working extra hours or less hours on certain days) provided the weekly working hours end up around 37.5 hours on average. Also, there are no assigned workstations, and you can switch desks around the office, or even work remotely from home or anywhere with an internet connection.
Y: Can you share with us the process of how you moved to Australia and started working there?
A: Of course. It was easier because I studied in Australia, so I didn’t completely start afresh. Networking helps tremendously, but I also had a few casual jobs which added to my work experience. While studying for my professional qualification, I used to chat with the admin staff at my Law School’s office to just say hi, and inquire about potential job opportunities. Do not underestimate the possibilities of conversations! They put me in touch with the right people, which is how I got my first professional job.
Y: With all your experiences, what tips would you offer those who looking for a job?
A: Ask around to learn what others have done – what worked and did not work for them. First, use all available resources including websites such as seek.com.au, local university’s job billboard, state’s law council job ads, and even LinkedIn. Even whirlpool’s “graduate jobs” sub-forum is a great resource. Definitely contact recruitment agents, submit your resume and meet with them, and apply for relevant graduate programs.
I also used the “cold-calling method”, where I called all (yes, all) law firms in my immediate location to find out which firm would consider recruiting. If they were not looking, you would save time by not sending them your resume. Before you call, make sure you do your research first! At least you will have something to talk about. Follow up in a week or so after submitting your resume if you’ve not heard back. For Australia, you will need an appropriate visa or otherwise you cannot apply for many jobs (including state government ones), which can seriously limit your chances.
Your resume and cover letter are incredibly important. Therefore, make sure they are tailored to each individual organisation you are applying for. While your resume and cover letter may be quite general at the start of your career, you should nevertheless try to tweak subtle details as appropriate. At a minimum, you should research each firm’s areas of practice, size, and partners.
Y: Oh yes, The wait can be long and excruciating. Do you have any advice for those who are waiting to hear back from employers?
A: Definitely. I would say make sure you are still working. It does not matter the industry you are working in. Working casual jobs will firstly earn you money, and secondly help you develop transferrable skills that are generally useful and valued in all professions (e.g. try to develop your interpersonal and managerial skills, and develop experiences where you can demonstrate you are good team player).
Y: How do you think someone can stand out from the crowd?
A: Ultimately, I think it all boils down to being personable, possessing good communication skills and being a good team player. In my experience, these are the most important factors employers look for, and demonstrating these attributes will put you ahead of competition. Generally, grades matter much less than you think. Do not underestimate experience and skills developed in casual jobs. Use them to demonstrate you have good interpersonal skills, a winning personality and can work well in a team. Think of how you can dress up these experiences for your applications for professional jobs as these are all transferrable skills. For example, do not simply say you worked in hospitality or retail – demonstrate how you developed skills during your interactions with your team, manager and clients. Be creative.
There are a lot of resources available online on interview preparation, so I will not re-hash generic interview tips. My personal tip is to properly thank your interviewers at the end of the interview, and let them know you really want the job and look forward to an opportunity to work with them.
Y: What do you think are the some of the problems students or fresh graduates may face while job searching?
A: Students and fresh graduates may sometime lack motivation or get sick of applying for jobs particularly if they receive a few rejections. The truth is you must actively seek opportunities. All the time. There are hundreds of people applying for the same positions, so you need to set realistic expectations and most importantly, you need to be prepared for rejections and not let them get you down. Be resilient, and keep applying.
What I have learnt is that sometimes, employers may simply hire the first decent applicant who applies simply because they are satisfied with the applicant and do not need to wait any longer for ‘the best applicant’ to apply. This is usually for the smaller organisations as they have less processes. So, it can be as simple as you being the FIRST. Do not waste time, and apply immediately when you see an opening.
Y: If you could have dinner with one person in the world, dead or alive, who would that be?
A: Without hesitation, dinner with my mum who passed away in 2007, but who will always remain an inspiration, a big influence on me and a significant contribution to me and my achievements.