21 May 2024

Griffith graduate who dreamt of being Indiana Jones gains Los Angeles consulate job

| Oliver Jacques
Join the conversation
Megan in a park

Megan Maxwell is about to pack to move to Los Angeles. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Griffith graduate Megan Maxwell has furthered her diplomacy career by securing an executive officer position at the Australian consulate in Los Angeles.

The 31-year-old will move to the United States next month, where she’ll live in an apartment in West Hollywood. Her new job will be to promote public diplomacy, organise events and support the Australian embassy in Washington DC.

READ ALSO Griffin Plaza cafe known for Melbourne roasted coffee adds bahn mi to menu

After graduating from Wade High and doing a degree in ancient history, Ms Maxwell dreamt of being the next Indiana Jones. But placements for a German human rights organisation and a United Nations (UN) delegation made her change direction.

Region caught up with her to find out why and what others can learn from her.

Why the change from Indiana Jones to diplomacy?

About 10 years ago, I did an archeological excavation in Israel. We were out digging in the desert about 20 km from Gaza when conflict flared up and a ground invasion was launched.

It was then that decided the impact of that sort of work wasn’t very high, in terms of influencing what was happening in the world now.

I was also interested in politics. I used to travel to Europe often to see friends and thought I may as well move to Germany in 2018. I first got a job working for an Irish pub in Cologne.

How do you go from serving drinks at a pub to working at the UN?

The UN was my goal and I worked hard for two and a half years to achieve it. I initially got accepted into a master’s program in international relations, then took a position for a German human rights organisation. I did projects on oil water pollution in South Sudan. My job was to create awareness among academics and politicians about what was happening there.

I then completed an internship with the German government, working on helping to improve access to clean water and safe toilets in developing countries. After that, I was offered a traineeship for the Australian government delegation at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.

It was amazing; I got to speak for Australia and give statements.

At a UN voting board

Ms Maxwell representing Australia at the UN. Photo: Supplied.

What advice do you have for young people who dream of a career in diplomacy or living abroad?

If you’re interested in international work, you need to try to live internationally.

I copped some flak for just travelling around for years – people see it as bumming around, but I knew it had a purpose and needed to work out where to direct it.

It’s also important to learn a language.

READ ALSO Ex-student sought $100,000 in damages from TAFE NSW, alleging ‘inconvenience and emotional distress’ after enrolment dispute

What languages did you learn?

I learned German, Italian and Latin. My German teacher at school, Mr Tony Roach, was excellent. He got good marks out of everyone. You wanted to do well for him.

Some people say Latin is a dead language, but I found it very useful as it gives you the basis for all the European languages.

What three figures in the world of history or diplomacy would you invite to a dinner party at your place?

Jesus. He’d be super interesting to chat to.
Winston Churchill. He’s a lad, a big drinker and had some great one-liners.
Princess Diana. She’d be good at any party.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.