From applicant to Future Leader - my advice for the application journey

2021 Westpac Future Leaders Scholar, Jake Louthean

Anna Kalamkarian, Westpac Scholar, 2022 Future Leader 


Applying for the Westpac Future Leadership Scholarship is an incredible and unique opportunity to think about who you are and what kind of impact you want to make in Australia. My advice is to take your time with this application and consider it as an investment in your own development.


Although everyone’s experience is different, here are some tips from my journey:


1. Think of the process as an opportunity


I like to think of the application process in two stages. The first stage (preparing your application) provides an opportunity to reflect on who you are, what you bring to the table and what you want to do in your postgraduate degree. The second stage (from application submission to National Assessment Centre) is a time you can invest into professional and personal activities that will help build momentum and confidence in your capacity to undergo the rest of the application process, and will help you feel more prepared for starting your postgraduate degree.


2. Make sure the application is coming from you


Whilst supervisors can help you think about what your project would entail and what international opportunities would be relevant, the rest of your application should be personal and come from you. Be authentic and think about what unique experiences, values, and skills you could bring to the W100 Scholars Network.


3. Reach out and connect with Westpac Scholars, postgraduate students and other networks


It’s always valuable to connect with others and learn from shared experiences. If you have questions about the application process, reach out to Westpac Scholars in your community to have a chat. If you know other people undertaking this application, connect with them too. Sharing this experience with others can bring you closer together and be an encouraging reminder that you are not in this process alone.


4. Consider leadership - what does it mean to you?


When I started my application, I wasn’t immediately sure what leadership meant to me. I started by asking my friends and supervisors what leadership meant to them and, after months of newfound interest in the topic, realised that my understanding of the complex and diverse term that is ‘leadership’ had rapidly evolved. I recommend seeking opportunities that might challenge and grow your understandings of leadership and allow you to learn more about your leadership potential. The insights I gained from this made me really enjoy the application process and feel more prepared for the future.


5. Seek opportunities to work on your confidence


It is difficult to be confident pursuing a PhD or Masters degree when it’s something you haven’t done before. Feelings of doubt and imposter syndrome are common even though they might be unfounded. I find that the best way to overcome a lack of confidence is through practice. Universities often run mock interview sessions and workshops that can help you feel more prepared with communicating on the spot and developing your pitch. If you feel like you need to improve your confidence, don’t be afraid to use available resources and try new things.


6. Consider whether you are ready to embark on a PhD/Masters degree


The first time I saw the Westpac Future Leader Scholarship was two years before I applied - at the time, an application for starting a PhD felt overwhelming. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue a PhD in and felt unsure of my capacities as a researcher. Putting a pause on undertaking a PhD turned out to be a great decision. Those two years gave me immense value in understanding more about myself (both personally and professionally) and when the time came for me to apply again, I felt ready and excited. So don’t feel the need to rush into an application, especially if you have just finished your undergraduate/honours degree and want to spend time discovering why you want to pursue further study. It’s okay to take your time.


Applications are now open for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship. Find out how you could receive up to $120,000 to support your studies or research at one of nine universities across Australia while gaining access to bespoke leadership and mentoring opportunities. 


Published 22 August 2023

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