Ondrej Bohac is a diplomat based in the Czech embassy in Canberra, Australia. He tells us about his time studying International Relations at Edinburgh, the university sporting pursuits that gave him a resilient and international group of friends, and the day to day business of working in an international embassy.
|Year of graduation
At the moment
At the moment I am in my office at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Canberra, sipping on green tea while raindrops are fiercely attacking the windows. The rain is making me miss Scotland and makes for an authentic setting to write about my experiences from my time at the University of Edinburgh.
Your time at the University
When I was deciding where to go for my post-graduate study, several factors led me to the University of Edinburgh. First, the city. Yes, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to live, but even better when you are a student. Secondly, the reputation of the University and its history is indisputable. And thirdly, I had the pleasure to be educated by leading researchers of the field, who were always approachable if needed (and needed they were on numerous occasions). And yes, the burgers in Teviot…
Studying at the University of Edinburgh helped me to increase my self-development skills and also to grow as a person in so many ways. I must say that my studies in Edinburgh were academically challenging, which fostered my ability to think critically and unleash my full academic potential, which I consider one of the greatest highlights of my time at the University, aside from the excellent sports facilities. There was countless sports clubs and societies; I had the pleasure to be on the Edinburgh University Kickboxing and Table Tennis teams, compete and make friends from all over the world both in and out of the classroom.
Your experiences since leaving the University
I graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2013 with a Master’s degree in International Relations. After finishing my studies, I returned to my home country, the Czech Republic, settling in its capital, Prague. Before joining the diplomatic service of the Czech Republic, I had briefly worked with the Police of the Czech Republic and in the private sector for Philips as a Government Affairs Trainee. In 2014, I started my career as a professional diplomat by joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague, where I worked within the Security and Multilateral section of the Ministry. In November 2017, I departed for my first diplomatic posting abroad, to Australia, as Deputy Head of Mission and Consul of the Czech Republic. From April 2018 to February 2019, I was appointed Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Czech Republic to Australia, which was a great learning experience. In my current position, I represent the political interests of the Czech Republic not only in Australia but also in New Zealand and six other Pacific Island countries. My day to day duties vary from drafting political analysis, holding diplomatic negotiations, to consular issues and organising cultural activities.
Being a diplomat is a challenging role as it requires you to travel constantly, often on short notice, and your career involves a high level of unpredictability. On the other hand, you get to visit surreal places all over the world and work with inspirational people from various backgrounds.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, both inside and outside of the classroom, challenge yourself and your peers by thinking outside the box and when you finally have your degree in your hands, do not be afraid of the outside world. Be pro-active and welcome new challenges with open arms. Moreover, having the University of Edinburgh on your resumé will give you a decent head start over others.