Top 10 application tips from our scholars

We asked last year’s successful scholars to share their top tips for preparing the best application possible. Here are their top 10 tips:

1. You have to be in it to win it

"Just apply! I was very hesitant to put myself forward and did so thinking it was an absolute long shot at best. Incredibly, here I am as a Westpac Social Change Fellow." – Lyndon Galea, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"The only way to be in with a shot is to apply. I almost didn’t, thinking I wouldn’t have much of a chance, so don’t rule yourself out before you’ve even started." – Joel Palte, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Too often people think “I’m not good enough”, but this is simply a self-fulfilling prophecy. Apply with the trust, faith, and conviction that you too could be a world-changer."– Jaffly Chen, 2019 Westpac Scholar

2. Don’t wait for the right time – start now!

"Open the application, copy and paste all questions into a word document and just start writing. You will be able to craft and refine your application as you go but don’t wait for the perfect moment to start. You will be surprised at how long it may take you to get some of the information that you need, you don’t want to be chasing up references the day before the applications close. Start today!" – Cameron Thorn, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Give yourself 3x more time than you think you need - the application is an extensive one and requires references and some deep insight on your motivations.  It is not something you want to rush, and it is worth investing your time and effort into." – Adrienne Koor, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Start your application today. References are key to the application process and not only is it polite to bring them into the fold early, starting early also gives you the most opportunity to write the best application possible!" – Jaffly Chen, 2019 Westpac Scholar

3. Be confident and back yourself

"Emphasise those qualities, beliefs, talents and values that make you, you. The panel is not looking for one type of individual. Rather they are a looking for a variety of people who are committed to pursuing their passions and committed to contributing to Australia." – Umanda Madugalle, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"You know yourself better than anyone else. You know your vision and why it is important. Simply, the selection panel don’t. They won’t know of your vision, why it is important and how you are the right person to make it happen. They want you to succeed, you just need to make sure that they can see it in your application. You need to back yourself, you’re the expert on you." – Cameron Thorn, 2019 Westpac Scholar

4. Show them the real you

 "Be yourself. Be honest about who you are and what drives you. Passionate and genuine is better than perfect." – Ben French, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"The scholarship supports individuals in their endeavours and is looking to invest in you as a person – so be the best you that only you can be!" – Talia Melsom, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Westpac is looking for amazing passionate individuals - not just a good resume or weighted average mark. Embrace your quirks and differences and bring them into your story." – Joel Palte, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"It can be very easy when filling out an application to fall into the trap of writing what you think people want to hear or what your ideal-super-high-achieving-ultimate-professional self might say. Stop and take a step back. At the end of the day a key part of the application process it to get to know you- the real YOU." – Alexandra Procter, 2019 Westpac Scholar

5. Seek guidance from others

"Back yourself but also don't be afraid to ask for help - it is all around you! Talk through your ideas with people you trust and get them to review your drafts to make sure you are articulating what you intend to."  – Nicole Ee, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Try and connect with a current or former applicant for extra tips. The social enterprise/not-for-profit space is very interconnected. Chances are you know a Fellow or two personally or indirectly. Reach out!" - Lyndon Galea, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Sometimes it can be difficult to answer application question when you’re staring at a blank page or computer screen! I found it useful to catch up with a friend, college or family member who would then ask me one of the application questions I was struggling with in person. By talking it through I was able to get down to the nitty gritty of what points I really wanted to get across and where my passions laid. Once the words started following it was easy to them get them down on paper!"  - Alexandra Procter, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"From the application process through to interviews you are strengthened by a team being on the journey with you, whether this is your referees, mentor, Board etc. Seek feedback, pitch ideas, and embrace the learning along the way because this is what the scholarship is all about." – Dr Shelley Bowen, 2019 Westpac Scholar

6. Know your ‘why’

"Have a vision and know what this includes. You don’t have to plan out your future exactly but having a goal for your studies and what you would ideally like to achieve comes across in your application." – Talia Melsom, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship is part of your journey. In your application, draw attention to how you have already been working towards achieving your vision for Australia, whether that has been through community service, previous study or work experience." – Medha Majumdar, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"More important than your CV or grades is knowing your ‘why’. Focus on articulating your story, what has made you the person you are today, and how this motivates your goals for the future." – Joel Palte, 2019 Westpac Scholar

7. Think big

"Treat the world as your oyster - aim high and shoot well beyond your means and dreams - then anywhere you land is a bonus. I never considered doing half the things I've ended up doing. My one piece of advice would be to think BIG!"  - Nip Wijewickrema, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Whilst you draft your application, don't be afraid to dream big and aspire for more. Think outside the box, get creative and don't let the usual bubble you might find yourself in constrain your ways of thinking."  – Nicole Ee, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Think big. Have the confidence to talk about the big issues you care about, even if they extend outside of your project. The scholarship is about you and your aspirations- not just your PhD/Masters." – Ben French, 2019 Westpac Scholar

8. Don’t be afraid to share your development areas

"Be unafraid to share your strengths and your weaknesses. Both are equally important and how you are aware of and overcome your weaknesses shows a sense of self awareness and openness to personal development."  – Talia Melsom, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Don’t be afraid to showcase your failures or tougher times. We often shy away from telling people when we have stuffed up or sharing the difficulties we are having in life, but one thing I can say I have learnt a lot so far (and am still learning) is that sharing these and doing your best to accept them and move forward makes you far more authentic and genuine." – Harry Carpenter, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Reflect on the areas you need to develop in order to achieve your vision and how the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship will help you to grow." - Medha Majumdar, 2019 Westpac Scholar

9. Give this opportunity the time it deserves

"Don’t treat this like a project or another thing on the “I’m so busy but have to do list”. Think of this as an extraordinary opportunity that requires your focus, attention to detail, and open-ness to learning." – Dr Shelley Bowen, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"There are many scholarships out there and only a handful of prestigious ones; but what makes the Westpac scholarship the most important scholarship opportunity to you and how can it assist you in getting to where you want to go?" – Harry Carpenter, 2019 Westpac Scholar

10. Take a moment to really reflect

"The application questions aren’t just simple yes/no answers. They require you to think about the bigger picture and reflect on your own values and experiences that make you who you are today. Enjoy it! We live such busy lives so take the time to really ponder each question- it’s a rewarding experience!" – Alexandra Proctor, 2019 Westpac Scholar

"Authenticity is not just writing truthfully about what you have done, but I think more importantly is about realising and connecting with what you want to achieve in the future and why/how you plan to get there. I found this challenging as I had never really thought through it, but found it the most valuable part of my application process."  Adrienne Koor, 2019 Westpac Scholar


2020 applications are now open. Apply or nominate today.

Westpac scholars